Thursday, February 7, 2008

4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days Review

To be honest this was a really difficult movie for me to give any sort of a number grade. I can't actually recommend that anybody see this, it's one of the most harrowing and disturbing films I've ever seen (I sit stoically through various war or 'torture porn' movies each year but this had me squirming uncomfortably in my seat). While it's not as interesting or compelling a take on the late Soviet bloc Communist society as last year's Lives of Others, I found the parts of the film that focus on life in 1987 Bulgaria (mainly in the film's first segment) were extremely effective. Anamaria Marinca's lead performance is stunning, genuine and believable. Mercifully both her performance and the screenplay avoid the cloying histrionic sort of reactions that could often be expected for a film character involved in a situation such as this. One of my main problems with the film, however, is Laura Vasiliu's supporting performance. Not only did I find her character difficult to empathize with, but I found her performance to be significantly lacking especially compared to her more talented co-stars. Vlad Ivanov, who plays the abortion doctor, gives a really believable turn in a role that could so easily have turned out poorly. I, though it seems I'm in the minority here, was bored by Mungiu's direction. I found the oft 'locked-in' camera work to be far less effective than a more mobile camera could have been. Still I do appreciate a director who has the confidence in his actors to call action and record what happens. I do think at times the film veers into exploitation for effect as well, including an overlong locked perspective shot focusing on the aborted fetus while the characters are interacting on the periphery of the frame. Though it does all come off as very 'real' which is quite possibly what, despite the flaws, makes the film work so well.

Overall Score: 7/10

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