The gamut of questions buried beneath ‘4 months, 3 weeks and 2 days’ are not about whether abortion is right or wrong, but rather who should take the responsibility for giving rise to the circumstances that lead to it. Because a woman must bear the child, it is ultimately perceived as her burden, but the film, though presented entirely from the point of view of two women, wisely censures men for not being able to control their libido’s. Set during the late 80’s, at a time when abortion was still illegal and Romania was starting to brush off the influence of communism’s iron grip, ‘4 months’ becomes an unflinching cautionary tale that might make you cringe at the subject matter and its presentation, but is likely to leave a very indelible mark.
In true cinema verite style (think Dardenne brothers), the film follows Otilia as she embarks on the task of finalizing the arrangements to allow her pregnant best friend and roommate Gabita to undergo an illegal abortion at the hands of world weary, nefarious abortionist. The decisions that the girls have to make, from borrowing the money, arranging a room in a seedy hotel and bribing disgruntled receptionists with cigarette packs, feel uncomfortably sincere. The dialogues themselves have an uncanny natural feel that hit all the right notes. There is an extended dinner table scene of such realism that it made me both laugh and flinch at its direct brutality. The same holds true of the entire film itself, which is so dour yet full of such extreme circumstances that you are caught between discomfort and awe. The entire film unfolds, almost in real time, during the course of one day (the 2nd day, in the 3rd week of the 4th month of pregnancy). Both actresses and especially the vicious abortionist Mr. Bebe, collectively give one of the years finest onscreen performance. All of this leads to an ending scene at the hotel restaurant of bitter irony. A perfect film (deservedly winning this years Palme d’Or at Cannes) and one that signals, along with other recent films from this nation (last years terrific ‘Death of Mr. Lazarescu’), a new, reassuring Romanian wave.
- by Faizan Rashid [Rated 5 out of 5]