4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days harrowingly tests how far one is willing to go for a friend. Immediately I must confess two statements. Firstly, this will be the most challenging review I've ever written due to the subject matter in hand. Secondly, this is an extremely difficult film to watch. Do not, under any circumstances, watch this with your parents, pets or even your closest friends. It will change you as a human. But I implore you to seek this near-perfect intense drama out and to analyse its ferocity. I've never seen anything quite like it before (and I've seen some gut-wrenching dramas...). In the heart of Communist Romania, two students (with one being pregnant) procure specific items throughout the day in order to prepare for an illegal abortion.
Loyalty. It may just be the most sincere quality to an individual. How far are friends willing to go for each other? The events of this film are the ultimate moral tests in friendship. Deplorable consequences for each action they take, and it is utterly heart-breaking to watch. Acquiring insufficient funds for the homemade abortion resulted in payment by other means. Promising a visit to the boyfriend's family party whilst waiting for the foetus to expel. Traveling endlessly in the middle of the night, just to ensure the safety of her friend. What these students undergo are, well, indescribable. And it is a testament to the social commentary that Mungiu illustrates. The morality of abortion is explored but never one-sided. Recreating the repulsive excess of poverty in 80s Romania, where civilians resort to extreme measures just to avoid prosecution.
Communism is never mentioned, yet heavily inferred by the sheer number of governmental forces lurking in the streets at night. The excessive silence and lack of musical score prevails in presenting the resistance to communism, all illustrated through meticulously long one take scenes that power the alluring nightmares shown onscreen. A social-realist ordeal that would emulate the definition of generational conflicts, painted by a stupendously detailed dinner scene that intrinsically cuts through Romania's class system. Directing techniques and cinematography that embellishes minimalism to ambiguously convey the oppression that these two students are residing within.
Two absolute perfect performances from Marinca and Vasiliu who both resonate strength and fragility. To then end the entire horror on a moment of silence, wanting the events to be erased from memory, just further cements the confidence and suppression of Mungiu's talent. The dialogue frequently emits a dark comedic tone, mostly though Gabita's inability to comprehend the simplest of requests, but remains sparse. The visual emptiness takes hold of the plot, whilst the audience fill in the gaps, allowing our direct involvement in this gripping tale. Occasionally, and this is my only criticism, the conversations repeat themselves to the extent that it becomes heavy-handed. Obviously the procedure is abhorrently hideous, but to repetitively keep retorting "you must be still" hinders the minimalism of the film.
Speaking of the procedure, fortunately it is not visibly shown. Despite it being the most controversial element, I'm appreciative of the retained minimalism and absent body horror. However, when that final moment of silence floods your senses, you'll be a different person. The harsh reality that these characters resemble, is just too much to bare. Never, have I watched a film like this before, and never will I forget it. Sensational.