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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
15
Cast
Anamaria Marinca
Vlad Ivanov.
Directors
Cristian Mungiu.
Screenwriters
Cristian Mungiu.
Running Time
113 minutes

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4 Months, 3 Weeks And 2 Days
More than just an abortion drama


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Plot
In 1987, a young Romanian student helps her friend get an illegal abortion.


Review
4 Months, 3 Weeks And 2 Days

It’s easy to snigger when a film wins the Palme d’Or at Cannes and is referred to, even by its champions, as “the Romanian abortion movie”. You might wonder what the Croatian Holocaust musical won, or what happened to the Kazakhstani Aids comedy. But as The Lives Of Others proved last year, only a fool confuses the phrase “arthouse film” with “foreign-language film”. In the same way that Von Donnersmarck’s Oscar winner struck a chord with audiences worldwide, so Cristian Mungiu’s superb, and rightly acclaimed, feature has plenty to say about life outside totalitarianism.

If you’ve seen Cristi Puiu’s dark healthcare tragicomedy The Death Of Mr Lazarescu (2005) – and it’s a bloody big ask – you’ll know a bit about Romania’s gripes about coming up to speed with the rest of the world after ousting dictator Nicolae Ceausescu in 1989. And if you haven’t even heard of Ceausescu, this film will put you slam-dunk back into his heyday. This is a relatively familiar place, but there is little or no personal freedom. The setting is modern, but the sense of surveillance and fear belongs to some ancient time.

This notion of oppression is evident right at the start of Mungiu’s film, where students Gabita (Vasiliu) and Otilia (Marinca) are planning a trip. The purpose is not made immediately clear, but it’s obvious from the cloak-and-dagger talk that this isn’t just a regular holiday. As she visits friends in her halls of residence, getting supplies, Otilia may as well be in post-war Britain, where even a packet of Tic-Tacs has black market currency.

By now Gabita’s situation is clear. She’s pregnant (hence the title), she doesn’t want to keep the child, and under Ceausescu, abortion is illegal for women under 40 who haven’t had four or more children already. And this is where Mungiu’s film becomes more than just a page of Romanian history; it’s a chilling reminder of the trade that flourishes where anything is criminalised.

So far, so worthy, but that’s not why this won the Palme d’Or. It’s also brilliantly made. Its aquarium colours are gorgeous, the camerawork superb, the girls amazing, and the final moment – was it really worth it for Otilia, and how grateful is Gabita? – give this a universal appeal.


Verdict
Tense, kinetic, intelligent and real – as if Paul Greengrass had remade Vera Drake.


Reviewed by Damon Wise

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for 4 Months, 3 Weeks And 2 Days
Empire Star Rating

RE: 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days

Tense and atmospheric, with brilliant performances all round, this is a film that puts you right in there with the characters and really makes you feel their situation as if you were living it yourself. Not at all the slow, depressing film I feared it would be, rather it's a testament to the strength of character required to live under the mind-numbing oppression of the final years of the Ceasescu regieme whilst struggling to retain some semblance of individuality and humanity. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Spacegoat at 11:08, 12 September 2010 | Report This Post


an unforgettable journey!!!

a masterpiece adorned each side ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by thenoir5 at 18:36, 14 April 2009 | Report This Post


In the communist Romania of 1987 is, under the dictatorship of Nicolae Ceauşescu, getting an abortion strictly prohibited: you could face a long prison sentence if it was discovered. Ceauşescu tried to create "the new human" and forced women to give birth to their babies at all costs. In this difficult situation are the 2 girlfriends Gabita and Otilia: Gabita is unwillingly pregnant and wants to have an abortion. Together with Otilia they put themselves in the most... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by TheGodfather at 21:24, 15 December 2008 | Report This Post


RE: 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days

*** Mildly spoilered *** Wow this was one of the most tense movies I've seen in a long time and one of the best of 2008. You'd think the story of a girl (Gabita) seeking an illegal abortion would revolve around her but in fact it's all about her friend Otilia, someone who is utterly selfless, brave and goes well beyond the call of duty for her friend. In fact you want the whole situation to work out not to save Gabita (who is in turns selfish, naive, stupid and deceitful) but for Oti... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Fluke Skywalker at 12:48, 11 December 2008 | Report This Post


4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days

Superb. Very high quality in every department. A genuine must see movie. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by qualidad at 08:22, 21 July 2008 | Report This Post


Harrowing

A harrowing and brilliantly acted drama, it's simple, human story generating the sort of tension most conventional thrillers can only dream of. Uncomfortable, but very worthwhile viewing. (8/10) ... More

Posted by MOTH at 09:20, 02 July 2008 | Report This Post


5 stars?? Try 3.

I'm all for subtlety however-how can this film have 5 star rating??! The emotional range of the Otilia character is very good, the backdrop is realistic for that time but for me however it struggles to deliver as entertaining viewing. To merit 5 stars should really stand out, this doesn’t standout! This is a classic example of how film reviewers hand out raving reviews to films which are simply different and in this case over subtle…. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by juangaz at 11:17, 05 June 2008 | Report This Post


Dont buy your gran a copy

modern european film at its very best - ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by bobbyperu at 18:26, 03 June 2008 | Report This Post


RE: outlines Romania

It's not the sort of film you can say you b], but it is a great, thought-provoking film.  If anyone wondered why life under Ceausescu was so hated and why he met the end he did, this film will answer some of those questions.  Absolutely shocking to think women had to go through this level of degradation and secrecy in such recent times.  Marvellous performances by the two women and the bloke who played the doctor.  Good comparison film to watch alongside Vera ... More

Posted by El Becks at 14:14, 20 April 2008 | Report This Post


outlines Romania

4 luni, 3 saptamini si 2 zile (4 months, 3 weeks and 2 days) is not easy to get across. You have to look like Brad Pitt or be able to act like Laurence Olivier to be able to make “Honey honey, fancy going to see a Romanian drama about abortion tonight?” sound attractive. We suggest you try it out in front of the mirror until it works. 4 luni, 3 saptamini si 2 zile justifiably won the Palme d’Or at the last Cannes Film Festival. It is one of those rare films in whic... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Malpertuis at 14:42, 26 March 2008 | Report This Post


4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days is...

A masterpiece. A true work of art. One of the best films ever made. Deeply disturbing. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by nc_jj at 23:28, 20 February 2008 | Report This Post


RE: very good , but stark, downbeat and bleak

indeed a great movie but its not a patch on for a Dreamze]or  siblen it comes to the HORRORS     nomean!? ... More

Posted by thepicaroony at 14:04, 05 February 2008 | Report This Post


RE: very good , but stark, downbeat and bleak

2"]Agreed in relation to the comments where you weren't able to look at the screen as you knew what was coming. I did look, but I must say I felt so overwhelmed and uncomfortable for it. But that is life, and when you think that at nearly 5 months you are really killing a human being it definately makes you think about abortion, and that personally it is very wrong. ... More

Posted by forbidden_planet at 14:26, 24 January 2008 | Report This Post


RE: very good , but stark, downbeat and bleak

L: Lightfoot For the first 20 minutes or so, you'll be quizzically looking around thinking "This shite won the Palme D'Or? Fair enough, it's going downhill of late, but ....?" It's the easy answer (and, if we're honest, a largely fruitless one) to speculate on what sort of reception a film would have received had it been filmed in English. And, if I'd only seen the first third, my answer would have been "Nothing. Rubbish with eastern bloc accents.". Oh but man .... This is the mo... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Groovy Mule at 19:08, 19 January 2008 | Report This Post


RE: very good , but stark, downbeat and bleak

For the first 20 minutes or so, you'll be quizzically looking around thinking "This shite won the Palme D'Or? Fair enough, it's going downhill of late, but ....?" It's the easy answer (and, if we're honest, a largely fruitless one) to speculate on what sort of reception a film would have received had it been filmed in English. And, if I'd only seen the first third, my answer would have been "Nothing. Rubbish with eastern bloc accents.". Oh but man .... This is the most uncomfortable f... More

Posted by Lightfoot at 13:22, 18 January 2008 | Report This Post


very good , but stark, downbeat and bleak

The Director shoots his native Romania under communist rule as a claustrophobic country; everything seems to be bearing down on the two main characters as the pressure of the situation manifests itself in the locations: the small college dorm, the tight showers, the tiny hotel room and the overcrowded dinner table all contribute to hemming the characters in. These locations are shot with the minimum of light and the light he does use is generally cold and harsh. A world away from the recent pr... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by moviemaniac2 at 09:07, 17 January 2008 | Report This Post


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