Although grown-up orphans Voichita (Cosmina Stratan) and Alina (Cristina Flutur) have spent their adult lives heading in wildly different directions - Voichita to a nunnery and Alina to low-wage work in Germany - their reunion brings tensions and troubles neither could have anticipated.
Director Cristian Mungiu refuses all compromises in taking the Romanian New Wave into Dogme-Dardenne territory with this gruelling, fact-based account of the battle for the heart and soul of waif Cosmina Stratan between an orphanage friend returning from Germany (Cristina Flutur) and the remote monastic community led by priest Valeriu Andriuta. The climactic exorcism focuses attention on spirituality and secularism, but Mungiu also exposes democracy’s inability to eradicate ignorance and poverty and the failings of its educational, medical and judicial systems. Ably acted, vividly photographed and laudably even-handed.
A bruising psychodrama from the Palme d'Or winner that taps into the dark heart of central European superstition.
Reviewed by David Parkinson