This is a superb piece of work: grittily realistic; moody, naturalistic filming; excellent, believable acting, but, it's more a documentary about the horrors of "back-street" abortions, that is unremitting in its grimness. All against the back-drop of the difficulties of dealing with life in the aftermath of a totalitarion state. The film Vera Drake comes to mind as a comparison and, as a film, I'd rate the latter higher as it had more variety of emotion and the characters were more rounded.
What I think this excellent film manages to achieve is to show that women who have to terminate their pregnancy (for whatever reason) but live in a society that prohibits abortion are forced to use potentially unsafe and traumatic medical procedures which could cause long term mental and/or physical ill health. Unlike Mike Leigh's likeable back street abortionist (Vera Drake), Mungiu offers the viewer a detestable character who exploits his power over the women he has offered to "help" and is highly aggressive and manipulative, culminating in appalling criminal behaviour. The film benefits from a brilliant screenplay that mercilessly evokes the stress and anxiety felt by the two women at the centre of the story. There is one fantastic scene (I think it's a continuous take) involving one of the women with her boyfriend at his mother's birthday dinner (the acting is of the highest quality). Overall this is a film that cleverly exposes the damaging effects of making abortion illegal but also the harrowing consequences of terminating a pregnancy.
on 9 August 2015
It was marvelous to be able to watch a movie from Romania. This is a very quiet, compelling and brave movie. It subtly lays out the story of a young woman who will do almost anything to help her friend get an abortion. Abortions were illegal and she and her friend and the back street abortionist could have gone to prison. Birth control was not an option. Much is revealed about life in Romania at the time of the story. This is not an easy film for it is about such a serious subject but it is very well done and one I highly recommend. Watching it reminded me of when abortion was illegal in the US and women often resorted to the scary and dangerous option of terminating a pregnancy using a back street abortionist. My fear is that certain presidential candidates and fundamentalist attitudes in US will make abortion illegal again in the US. I look forward to the chance of seeing other movies - dramas as well as comedies - from Romania.
This is one of the best films I've ever seen, and probably the single most memorable. Nothing about it shouts, everything whispers but in the most subtle and beautiful way, despite its grim subject matter, it manages to portray not only the most noble, honourable and loyal sides of people, but also how the effect a corrupt and thuggish regime can have on all society.
The theme is fairly simple. Gabita is pregnant and her friend and room-mate, Otilia, played by Anamaria Marinca, is helping her arrange an illegal abortion. The action all takes place in just a few hours. During this time, the girls check in to a very unwelcoming hotel, and Anamaria meets the sinister abortionist, Mr Bebe, and brings him to the room, where some bargaining takes place before he agrees to terminate the foetus because Gabita lied about how far gone she was.
The three lead actors are all absolutely brilliant. Anamaria Marinca in particular is outstanding, she has one of those faces you could watch forever. Her acting is so understated, so delicate that without appearing to act she portrays an immense range of emotion.
The Romanian winter city-scapes are bleak and miserable, it's a joyless society under Ceaucescu, and this is where the film so brilliantly manages to make you think about politics and human rights. This is what happens in a society where women, deprived of contraception, effectively become breeding machines for the state. With no power over their own bodies, there bodies become commodities, to be traded. In one of many superb scenes Otilia points out to her boyfriend that he isn't taking any responsibility for making sure she too does not fall pregnant.
I'm making it sound miserable and dull, it isn't! It's a brilliant, brilliant film! It avoids all stereotyping, does not preach or scaremonger, it just shows. And the friendship between the two girls, and their gentle, loving relationship is a million times more important than the awful things they have to do to survive. If I could give this 50 stars, I would.
on 25 February 2012
I found this film really sad, the setting is so bleak, I hope those days have gone forever.
Its the story of a young , pregnant university student, and her friend, and the terrible things that happen to them
Its subtitiled, but worth it, Very , very well acted, I whole-heartedly reccomend it
on 9 November 2013
Romanian screenwriter, producer and director Cristian Mungiu`s second feature film which he wrote and co-produced, is inspired by real events. It premiered In competition at the 60th Cannes International Film Festival in 2007, was screened in the Special Presentations section at the 32nd Toronto International Film Festival in 2007, was shot on location in Bucharest, Romania and is a Romanian production which was produced by cinematographer and producer Oleg Mutu. It tells the story about two female students in their early twenties named Gabita and Otilia who lives in a crowded dorm in Romania in 1987. As Gabita`s closest friend, Otilia has learned that her roommate is pregnant, that she has decided to get an abortion and that she has made arrangements to meet a man which one of the women at the student home has recommended named Mr Bebe. Otilia is standing by Gabita and has no objections to her choice, but neither one of them has been in dealings with the black market before.
Distinctly and engagingly directed by Balkan filmmaker Cristian Mungiu, this finely paced and somewhat fictional tale which is narrated from multiple viewpoints though mostly from the main character`s point of view, draws a refined and rarely unsettling portrayal of two roommates` first-time encounter with an unauthorized "surgeon", their friendship and Otilia`s relationship with her boyfriend named Adi. While notable for its naturalistic milieu depictions, fine cinematography by Moldovan cinematographer Oleg Mutu, low-keyed production design by production designer Mihaela Poenaru, costume design by costume designer Dana Istrate and use of sound and colors, this dialog-driven and narrative-driven story about illegal abortion and more specifically about the recurrently relevant theme of abortion where the nuances within the narrative, the setting, the dialog, the communication of the story and the concentration on the characters, their experience of the situation one of them has instigated and the other takes the largest part of the consequences of, reflects, as so many other noteworthy films also does, that filmmakers aren`t just dreamers walking around or running around with a fancy camera intending to create an alternative to real life, the actors and actresses not just complaisant puppets playing games on a stage to get attention or please a demanding audience, the screenwriters not just aspiring authors who have scribbled down a few words on a piece of paper and that the incorporation of fiction within a story which also contains true or biographical elements can increase reality`s presence, holds its tension from the first to the last frame and depicts a dense and humane study of character.
This somewhat biographical, observational, sequential and atmospheric drama from the late 2000s which is set during an autumn day in a city in Romania in the late 1980s when the country was under Communist rule and where a woman who promises her boyfriend that she will attend his mother`s 48th birthday and her friend whom is awaiting a visit from her father is heading for a crucial meeting concerning a matter of life which is to take place at a hotel room, is impelled and reinforced by its stringent narrative structure, substantial character development, rhythmic continuity, long takes, involving dialog, distinct authenticity, subtle examination of its central theme and the poignant acting performances by Romanian actresses Anamaria Marinca and Laura Vasiliu and Romanian actors Alexandru Potocean and Vlad Ivanov. An acutely cinematic, conflicting and heartrending character piece which gained, among numerous other awards, the Palme d`Or at the 60th Cannes Film Festival in 2007.