4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days (2007)

1 06 2008

In spite of all the hype building this up to be some sort of “thriller” it is actually a wonderfully executed social drama on par with the Dardenee Brothers, Alan Clarke, and hell, maybe a bit of a Gaspar Noe influence thrown in there too. No question, it is a very suspenseful film but not at all in the conventional sense. The Lives of Others this is not. Instead, it is a film that is bleak, awkward, and tension-filled without the influence of any of the textbook conventions that suspense films have always been built around.

Otilia and Gabita are roommates, the later girl is need of an abortion. Otilia, being the more outgoing of the two, does a majority of the work: making a hotel reservation, meeting with the doctor, and taking the initiative to pay for the procedure. In the mean time, she also needs to show up for the birthday of her boyfriend’s mother. Everything ultimately works out but the pressure of such a burden can’t quickly be forgotten.

First of all, I must say that this is visually, one of the more unique films I’ve seen in quite sometime. Even Yumurta‘s visual style had roots in the films of Hiroshi Ishikawa (Tokyo.Sora, Su-ki-da) but Mungiu’s look is probably that of a slightly bleached out film shot by Christopher Doyle. That is to say, this capture the same borderline garish color scheme of a Wong Kar-Wai film but still maintains a very dark look, almost akin to a David Fincher film. I suppose one could read this as insult, but it’s really a compliment as the simultaneously saturated and bleached colors look wonderful when under the control of such accomplished camera work. There’s plenty of long handheld/steadicam shots that aimlessly follow characters, which is fantastic, and to make things better, it’s juxtaposed with (similarly beautiful) static shots. All in all, a fantastic film from a technical point of view.

The narrative is not really the main thrust here, as little “plot development” takes place. Obviously, those who expect some sort of conventional suspense film are bound to be disappointed. There’s really no ever-looming threat or sense of danger, but rather a dreary and accurately fucked-up world with an overwhelming amount of stress. Mungiu clearly intended to establish such a mood, because the film ends without any type of closure that one often finds in suspense films. The quick scare is not going to go away, the bad guys aren’t defeated, everything isn’t going to be fine. It is so often in film, even respectable art films, that so much closure is given that the viewer can only deduce that this is the end. Unless, the protagonist has died, this shouldn’t be felt. Life continues after the screen fades, for us and for Otilia and Gabita.

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3 responses

1 06 2008
DG

“respectable art films”

true

1 06 2008
Jake Savage

Only that part is true, or the sentence it’s in? I’m a bit confused.

1 06 2008
Jan S

Hah, I also saw this a couple of days ago. Need to catch up again…

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