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4 Months 3 Weeks and 2 Days

Anamaria Marinca , Vlad Ivanov , Cristian Mungiu    DVD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Product Description

Product Description

When the flighty Gãbiþa decides to terminate her pregnancy - a crime in Romania from 1966 until 1989 - her fiercely loyal university dorm-mate and best friend, Otilia, accompanies her to a hotel room to be "helped" by one Mr. Bebe , the only black-market practitioner they can afford. When the foul Bebe requests something far more precious than money for his services, the girls descend into a harrowing journey of the soul that is nothing short of shattering. Taking place over a single Saturday in 1987, the film holds an enormous emotional gravitas. It evolves into a profound exploration not only of sorority in harsh times but of choices and responsibility when options are few.

Review

"A triumph... Ferocious, unsentimental & brilliantly directed... Deserves to be seen by the largest audience possible" -- Manohla Dargis, NEW YORK TIMES

"Brilliant... The year's most acclaimed foreign-language film" -- Scott Foundas, LA WEEKLY FILM CRITIC

"Gripping" -- Richard Corliss, TIME

"Pitch perfect and brilliantly acted... a stunning achievement" -- Jay Weissberg, VARIETY

"Powerful" -- ROGER EBERT, Chicago Sun-Times

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars the misunderstood masterpiece May 17 2008
Format:DVD
This is not just the Romanian film on abortion.

4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days is the story of two girls and their attempt to solve the problem of having an abortion in a totalitarian state where aborition was prohibited. The reason abortion was illegal, and people went to prison for attempting it, is because Ceausescu thought that Romania needed a bigger population because he gathered that a bigger population meant a more powerful state. Therefore, there was no contraception available and people had to make do with what they could.

Now, what 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days shows, in a shockingly honest way, is that humanity can endure even the most degrading and inhuman of situations. Ironically, what this film is about is survival. The girls simply need to get on with their lives and survive. And you, the viewer, will witness their every thought and emotion etched on their faces. You will witness their struggles and decision-making moments.

It's an inspiring piece, a visionary attempt. You cannot not be affected by watching it and hopefully, hopefully you will come out a better person for it.

Bogdan Tiganov - author of Romanian For Sale and the soon to be released The Wooden Tongue Speaks Romanians: Contradictions & Realities
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5.0 out of 5 stars the misunderstood masterpiece May 17 2008
Format:DVD
This is not just the Romanian film on abortion.

4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days is the story of two girls and their attempt to solve the problem of having an abortion in a totalitarian state where aborition was prohibited. The reason abortion was illegal, and people went to prison for attempting it, is because Ceausescu thought that Romania needed a bigger population because he gathered that a bigger population meant a more powerful state. Therefore, there was no contraception available and people had to make do with what they could.

Now, what 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days shows, in a shockingly honest way, is that humanity can endure even the most degrading and inhuman of situations. Ironically, what this film is about is survival. The girls simply need to get on with their lives and survive. And you, the viewer, will witness their every thought and emotion etched on their faces. You will witness their struggles and decision-making moments.

It's an inspiring piece, a visionary attempt. You cannot not be affected by watching it and hopefully, hopefully you will come out a better person for it.

Bogdan Tiganov - author of Romanian For Sale and the soon to be released The Wooden Tongue Speaks Romanians: Contradictions & Realities
Was this review helpful to you?
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the misunderstood masterpiece May 17 2008
Format:DVD
This is not just the Romanian film on abortion.

4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days is the story of two girls and their attempt to solve the problem of having an abortion in a totalitarian state where aborition was prohibited. The reason abortion was illegal, and people went to prison for attempting it, is because Ceausescu thought that Romania needed a bigger population because he gathered that a bigger population meant a more powerful state. Therefore, there was no contraception available and people had to make do with what they could.

Now, what 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days shows, in a shockingly honest way, is that humanity can endure even the most degrading and inhuman of situations. Ironically, what this film is about is survival. The girls simply need to get on with their lives and survive. And you, the viewer, will witness their every thought and emotion etched on their faces. You will witness their struggles and decision-making moments.

It's an inspiring piece, a visionary attempt. You cannot not be affected by watching it and hopefully, hopefully you will come out a better person for it.

Bogdan Tiganov - author of Romanian For Sale and the soon to be released The Wooden Tongue Speaks Romanians: Contradictions & Realities
Was this review helpful to you?
4 of 11 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Wrong aspect ratio - sheeeesh! June 17 2008
Format:DVD
Like IFC, Mongrel Media have transferred this in the incorrect aspect ratio. the film was projected in 2.35:1 - this DVD is 1.78:1. Terrible.
See DVDBeaver for more.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.8 out of 5 stars  118 reviews
52 of 55 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Some background info Jan. 27 2008
By DANIEL MAXIN - Published on Amazon.com
I think there are some facts that people not familiar with Romanian history need to know in order to better understand the movie. Since the Ceausescu's goal was to increase the population, not only the abortion was illegal but the contraception was also non-existent. Young people were also not educated in family planning at all. Occasionally one could buy contraceptive pills from dubious sources on the black market, but overall, besides using the calendar method (highly unreliable for many women), the abortion was the immediate mean to avoid an unplanned pregnancy.
The movie is excellent and there is no need for spoilers however, since people will react accordingly depending on their stance toward abortion, I think it is important to mention that abortion was not illegal on moral grounds. It was a state policy to increase the population which made contraception and family planning education also illegal or at least non-existent.
Ironically, statistics showed that the population did not increase nowhere near close to what was expected.
48 of 52 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What A Difference A Day Makes Jan. 24 2008
By Alex Udvary - Published on Amazon.com
Some films are able to dazzle you without the use of special effects, big Hollywood stars and nudity. They manage to crawl under your skin and get inside you. They leave an indeliable mark on you. Cristian Mungiu's "4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (4 luni, 3 saptamani si 2 zile)" is such a film. And easily one of the best films of 2007!

Whatever the reason, currently Romanian is a hot property. People and critics are just buzzing with excitement about what is going on in Romanian cinema. And even though I'm not Romanian (I'm Hungarian) I'm pretty excited about it too.

In 2006 there was the release of "The Death of Mr. Lazarescu", besides "4 luni, 3 saptamani si 2 zile", also released in 2007 was "12:08 East of Bucharest". These three films seem to be part of a new wave in Romanian film. Each takes on modern day society while questioning the past. All three are confrontational.

"4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days" takes place during a 24 hour period in which a young girl, Gabita Dragut (Laura Vasiliu) seeks an abortion in Ceausescu's Romania. At the time such acts were against the law. She needs the help of her roommate, Otilia (Anamaria Marinca) to sort out the details and supply some support, since the father of the child is not only never seen but never spoken of either.

The two girls get in contact with Bebe (Vlad Ivanou) through a mutual friend. Bebe is the only person who will perform an abortion after the 4th month, this is how the film gets its title. That is how long Gabita has been pregnant. Bebe though does not seem like a trust worthy kind of guy. He has something up his sleeve. But he will not be the end of their problems.

The film sets itself up as a thriller and believe it or not, it is suspenseful. There are no chase sequences, no cops and robbers, just the suspense that the two girls will get found out and risk prison and worst yet may have physical damage done to them.

Though the characters never speak directly about politics, Mungiu and his cinematographer, Oleg Mutu (who also shot "The Death of Mr. Lazarescu) very in subtle ways tell the viewer about life under Ceausescu. We can sense the paranoia of the times and the government control. ID's are contantly asked for and checked. Streets are empty. Everyone buys supplies from the black market. Even if you are not familiar we the history of Romanian we can see or at least get a sense of what life was like under the times.

The film is fully conceived and realized by Mungiu who has directed only one other feature film entitled "Occident". Every character is believeable as is their situation. I never questioned whether or not what was on-screen could or could not happen. It is accepted as truth. But the standout performances are given by the girls. Neither has much experience. Marinca has a brief role in Francis Ford Coppola's "Youth Without Youth", also set in Romania. And Vasiliu has only acted in one other film, Nicolae Margineau's masterpiece "Bless You, Prison". With such little acting experience how on Earth did these girl pull off these roles? They are the heart and soul of the film and deserve every bit of acclaim they get for this movie and more.

And the film has been getting acclaim. It was the winner of the Palm d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival. It won a prize at the Chicago Film Critics Award and was nominated for a Golden Globe. Sadly though, it has received no Oscar nominations, showing the Academy's prejudice towards countries on the eastern side of the Berlin Wall.

Mingiu says the film is only the first part of a series he plans on making ironically entitled "Tales From the Golden Age". I look forward to seeing all of them.

Bottom-line: One of 2007's best films. An intense film that becomes all the more shocking when you think "this feels true". Two strong performances by the young girls in the film are highlights.
49 of 55 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Unhollywood Oct. 18 2008
By A. Dent - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
What if it was true?

Almost no one would answer the question on what would happen if abortions WERE outlawed by the State. Would we jail the women? Kill the abortionists? It's out of the question in a civilized nation. Right? Well... not exactly. Communist Romania did outlaw abortion during the 70's and 80's. The reasons were not exactly humanitarian but the end result was that early abortions were punished with a few years in prison and late term abortions, past the 4th month were treated as murders. This is the telling of a (possibly true) story from those years. It's an illustration of what we here, in the States, like to call a `back alley abortion'. The back alley, in this case, is a hotel room, a rather decent one.

The visual environment and the way characters interact are consistent with Romania's impoverished status back in 1987 - there's little color, little hope, few lights at night, little joy. The few extras we see are shown as small, disoriented, defeated people performing absurd or incomprehensible (to us) activities such as wandering aimlessly in the night, lining up in queues or risking whatever was left of their freedom for some meager black market profits. Everyone seems to be indifferent, corruptible, bored, boring, alone, lonely but surprisingly well-mannered, given the circumstances. Had this been a Hollywood production, we might have ended up watching a zombie or a body-snatcher type of a movie but this one was made in East Europe and the Hollywood advisers didn't bother to offer their precious advice so what we see are the memories of a reality not completely dead.

Gabriela (Gabi) is a senior student who shares a dorm room and has a good friend in Otilia. She seems to understand little about the facts of life and, once she turns pregnant, she tries to do what everyone viewed as the `natural' choice those days - end the pregnancy through an abortion.

Otilia is Gabi's roommate and her best friend. She makes everything happen while Gabi is passively waiting for the problem to go away. A senior student, Otilia views her own future either as living a boring life, helping run some remote factory or as a possible housewife following her 'man', making mashed potatoes and maybe playing mommy for him. She is under no illusion that he would ever stand up for her if not doing so was a more convenient or a safer option. Living in a dorm, sharing a room with Gabriela, she has no choice but mature a little. She is dating the son of a more well-to-do family but she doesn't expect much from him beyond some brief moments of intimacy. She feels obligated to help Gabriela because no one else would and, if she didn't, she would be completely alone. She's not only Gabi's friend, she's her mother too because she needs to care about someone and because no one else would volunteer.

Otilia's boyfriend (forgot the name) at 23 or 24 is still his mother's baby. Otilia doesn't trust him with much beyond his ability to provide her with a little intimacy.

Bebe, the abortionist, is a loving son who doesn't forget to stop and make sure that his old, helpless mother is okay on his way to the abortion. He is quite good at what he does. He sterilizes his tools; he is using antibiotics and provides good post-procedure advice. He even offers to make a free follow up visit. He is also demanding some special type of compensation for his services.

Otilia is the main character. All throughout the movie, the camera follows her and all others are relevant to the extent that Otilia interacts with them. This makes sense because she is the only one who DOES anything. Everyone else appears to be devoid of initiative or free will. The plot is simple. Gabi wants to have her (illegal) abortion but she waits for Otilia to do most of the work and take most of the risks. It gets to a point where Otilia accepts having sex with the abortionist as payment for his services. Once the abortion is complete, Otilia helps dispose of the baby and life continues.

Gabriela, the pregnant one, has given up on almost everything. She seems to be willing to allow for "things" to be done for her or to her. She lies and she begs to get by. She is made pregnant, she lets Otilia arrange for her own abortion while she's busy waxing her legs, she lets the abortionist handle her body and she's not afraid because Otilia is there, watching, she doesn't object to his taking his pay by having sex with Otilia. She doesn't demand that Otilia agrees to that `payment' but she begs the abortionist not to leave when Otilia does not appear to be in the mood to pay with her own body. After the baby is aborted, Otilia, again, is the one who disposes of the little body while Gabi goes down to the restaurant, waiting for her return. The frightening suspicion (my suspicion) is that Gabi probably knew what type of `payment' the abortionist was going to demand but she goes along with it all because that option was going to be `cheaper'.

Overall, while `abortion' is what all of this seems to be about, the more subtle and the more frightening aspect is the background and IT is important because this movie is meant to be a snapshot of life `then'. What we see is a nation or a world where meaningful interactions beyond some immediate family ties are close to non-existent. Paradoxically, while the communist utopia called for a society where individuals were perfectly integrated into their communities, what we observe is a caricature Hobbesian world. It's a world were all the good pickings were already picked by some invisible entities and everyone else is struggling for the leftovers and they are allowed to do so for as long as they are not overtly disruptive to the imposed order. The symbolism is subtle but powerful - Otilia walking or running around on her numerous errands, usually at night, always alone, followed by or crossing paths with stray dogs and strangers without faces, the omnipresent policemen, Otilia and Gabi being served leftovers from a wedding at their post-abortion meal. There are no or little moral concerns. Whatever works is good for as long as it works and that includes Gabriela's choice to abort. No one - Gabriela, Otilia, Bebe - ever expresses any second thoughts about the morality of what they were about to do, their concerns seem to be about Gabi's health (infection), the inconvenience of her possibly having to wait for a day or two before the artificial miscarriage takes place and the risks of being caught and punished. Gabi does seem to show some sympathy for her baby AFTER it is all done and the baby lies on the bathroom floor, as she asks Otilia to bury him rather than throw the little body in the trash. It's frightening because the world used to be like that THERE and THEN and it's frightening because, chance areit seems, the world is trending in that direction EVERYWHERE but, hopefully, not FOREVER.

I am giving this movie 5 stars not because the Frenchies gave it their Palme d'Or at Cannes but because this movie is unafraid to discuss topics that us, Americans, not unlike Otilia's boyfriend, can only accept when served to us in the form of brightly-colored sci-fi, make-believe allegories that can't possibly be real. It gets stars for courage, for Anamaria Marinca's (Otilia) acting, for the director's ability to tell a hard to tell, horrifying story.

Little notes: there is no overt violence, there is some brief nudity but sexual activities are not explicitly displayed. The aborted, bloodied fetus is shown. The dialogues are in Romanian with English and Spanish subtitles available. There is no music, sound effects, explosions or any other kind of special effects.

DVD Extras:

- A short documentary following a German 'movie caravan' that, after the Palme d'Or award, attempted to show the movie to Romanians. The country has only 37-50 movie theaters left, serving about 25 million people.

- An extraordinary, MUST SEE, interview with Writer/Director/Producer Cristian Munjiu, discussing the ethics of cinematographically telling a story.

- An interview with Cinematographer Oleg Mutu.
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still speechless and scarred by this picture. March 29 2009
By William Capodanno - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
This movie is a haunting and harrowing tale set in Ceaucescu's Romania. centered on a pair of college dorm mates, Gabita and Otilia, who we encounter on the day Gabita, with Otilia's help, seeks to terminate her unwanted pregnancy.

This is a bleak and disturbing film tackling a very emotional subject. Cristian Mungiu has delivered a masterpiece, a film so powerful it will leave scars with the viewer long after watching it. The material is raw, filmed beautifully to capture the raw feelings and emotions of the characters, the ugly and drab feel of a communist country and the ever present authoritarian hand of the state. Some of the scenes are unnerving, especially the hotel scene when Gabita and Otilia are "negotiating" with the man who will perform the abortion. In any society, the choice to terminate an unwanted pregnancy is not one that is positive or cause for happiness. The reality of facing this reality in the society that Mungiu brings to life is even more dispiriting. There are no good choices for Gabita and Otilia and one cannot begin to imagine the mental wounds that they will be left with for the rest of their lives.

The craftmanship of this film is most evident during two parts of the film. The first is when Otilia is visiting her boyfriend Adi's parents apartment to celebrate his mother's birthday. The scenes in the apartment are stunning in how they are shot, especially the bulk of the dining room scene -- shot from one angle, the expressiveness of Otilia, her anguish at having to put up with this family, their celebration and them and their friends sarcastic denigration of her is about as good as movies get. Additionally, the scenes where Otilia is roaming the streets of the city looking for a place to dispose of the fetus is riveting and terrifying -- most horror films should take a lesson from Mungiu. We keep expecting something even worse to befall Otilia, as if disposing of her friend and roommate's dead fetus isn't bad enough. Nothing bad happens but the eerie darkness, haunting sounds and frigid weather left me on the edge of my seat. This part of the picture for me was a metaphor for the evil big brother authoritarian state chasing Otilia and her friend Gabita no matter how hard they'll try to run from it.

This is a movie that is too important not to watch. It features top-notch acting, phenomenal dialogue and great directing. It is a frightening view in to the realities of society under an authoritarian political regime. Be prepared to be effected in a deep and dramatic way because this movie will touch even the most hardened person.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars stunning Nov. 12 2009
By andymydear - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
The rawness of this movie captivates you. I don't think a movie has been this brave in a very long time. It's so real, so righteous, and you're left there really feeling for the characters and their situations. I think it's an absolutely excellent movie.

I think people need to stop being so close-minded and high-horsed, and take this movie for what it is, for the skills that went into making it. Which is complete brilliance.
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