Directed by: Cristian Mungiu
Written by: Cristian Mungiu
Starring: Adi Cărăuleanu, Luminița Gheorghiu, Mădălina Ghițescu, Vlad Ivanov
Making the decisions in this film carries an incredibly difficult weight and impact on the lives of the characters. Add that to the lack of resources available for those decisions, and things get much more difficult. This harrowing film experience will be difficult to forget anytime soon due to its graphic nature and the excellent execution of its plot.
This film follows two friends, Găbița (Adi Cărăuleanu) and Otilia (Luminița Gheorghiu), who are both university students with bright futures ahead of them. A future that may be altered because Otilia has a pregnancy that she does not want to keep and lives in a country that has banned abortion. In Romania, Otilia must contend with taking part in an illegal practice that could leave everyone involved being charged with murder. In order to go through with the operation, Otilia tasks Găbița with helping put together the meeting with a doctor, who provides the illicit service of abortion. With that arrangement comes complications and allows the two female protagonists the opportunity to reflect on their life and what they want for the future.
This film’s success derives from its utilization of unrelenting tension layered through every single second of the film. Due to the illicit nature of the work being done and stakes inherently involved, every decision a character makes could end in dire consequences. That tension prevails in every single interaction Găbița and Otilia have and primarily with the doctor played by Vlad Ivanov. He does such a great job playing an untrustworthy character, but part of that character formation comes with the circumstances. His profession centers on being an abortion doctor and with the illicit nature of his work, he would be charged with murder if ever caught. He seems untrustworthy because trust cannot be afforded by any of the characters in the film. This becomes much more apparent when things start to not go to plan with the procedure. Different changes to the agreement make it difficult for anyone to truly be at ease with the other. That leads to very tough decisions being made and showing the true character of this particular doctor and how sees the two protagonists.
The best performer was without a doubt, Adi Cărăuleanu, as she finds herself stuck in the place of helping her friend through this difficult process and dealing with her own personal struggles. The type of performance so incredibly grounding because her character feels so real and human. Găbița constantly shows signs of being a selfless character with how she assists Otilia, which contrasts the selfish nature of her very own boyfriend. She has to juggle trying to appease her boyfriend’s wishes of attending his mother’s birthday party with trying to assist Otilia with her operation. It puts the frivolousness of a party compared to a life and death decision happening with her friend. A stark contrast of priorities that would not seem so difficult for Otilia if she had a boyfriend that offered any sort of support.
With the emotional weight of their decisions, the film employs a sense of coldness to the characters because everything occurring simply becomes a transaction. The very facet of life becomes an exchange of money between the two women and the doctor. It drains the emotion from their faces because the entire process shows the reality of being a woman in Romania and allows them to reflect on what they value in life. It causes a moment of reckoning for Găbița with her relationships and what she deems important. It challenges the foundation of her friendship with Otilia and what she would do for her. Everything that occurs numbs everyone involved and makes it unclear exactly when they’ll be able to feel anything again.
This viewing experience will not be for someone that cannot handle the subject matter because of the graphic imagery the film employs that left me stunned that they actually showed. Writer/director Cristian Mungiu did not sugarcoat the process or hold anything back in depicting the weight the decision has on its characters. 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days left an enduring impact on me, especially not knowing what I was going into when first viewing the film. A brilliant piece of filmmaking that allows its story to consume the characters because of the subject matter and the choices necessary to their circumstances. The first film from Romania that I have ever watched but certainly not the last.