Winner of the Palme dOr at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival, this is a bleak, low-key, intimate glimpse into the emotional wretchedness of a womans life in 1987 during the final days of the communist Ceausescu regime in Romania when abortions were illegal.
College roommates Gabita (Laura Vasiliu) and Otilia (Anamaria Marinca) face a major dilemma. Gabitas pregnant and Otilias agreed to accompany her to have an abortion. But irresponsible Gabitas jangled nerves require pragmatic Otilia to make most of the arrangements, including buying soap, bartering money and bargaining on the black market for cigarettes. Problem is: Gabitas not entirely honest about how far along her pregnancy is and what will be required to convince the bullying black market abortionist, Mr. Bebe (Vlad Ivanov), to do the job.
Suspense heightens with Mr. Bebes blunt retribution after discovering that Gabita has not followed his precise instructions and Otilias reluctant departure to attend her boy-friends mothers birthday party. In that tedious dinner party scene, mindless chatter ironically camouflages Otilias simmering inner drama.
Devoted to realism as part of the Romanian New Wave, filmmaker Christian Mungiu shoots each scene in one take with Oleg Mutus camera capturing characters as they pass in and out of the frame, along with details like a bus that runs on bomb-like gas cylinders.
Whats most remarkable is the splendid ensemble. Devoid of histrionics, the actors explore their characters softly, yet with chilling authenticity, particularly Anamaria Marinca (Youth Without Youth), whose silences speak volumes.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days is a grim, harrowing 8. After the fall of communism in 1989, one of the first measures taken in Romania was to legalize abortion again.