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52 of 55 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Some background info
I think there are some facts that people not familiar with Romanian history need to know in order to better understand the movie. Since the Ceausescu's goal was to increase the population, not only the abortion was illegal but the contraception was also non-existent. Young people were also not educated in family planning at all. Occasionally one could buy contraceptive...
Published on January 27, 2008 by DANIEL MAXIN

versus
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good though not great movie....no spoilers in my review
This movie was a slow drama with not too much suspense. The story is set in Romania. It is about a pregnant college girl who with the help of her roommate wants to get an abortion. Abortions were illegal at that time since the government wanted to repopulate the country and so put in place an abortion ban as well as a birth control ban. I did not honestly find it...
Published on May 18, 2012 by Shazam


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52 of 55 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Some background info, January 27, 2008
By 
DANIEL MAXIN (Valparaiso, IN, USA) - See all my reviews
I think there are some facts that people not familiar with Romanian history need to know in order to better understand the movie. Since the Ceausescu's goal was to increase the population, not only the abortion was illegal but the contraception was also non-existent. Young people were also not educated in family planning at all. Occasionally one could buy contraceptive pills from dubious sources on the black market, but overall, besides using the calendar method (highly unreliable for many women), the abortion was the immediate mean to avoid an unplanned pregnancy.
The movie is excellent and there is no need for spoilers however, since people will react accordingly depending on their stance toward abortion, I think it is important to mention that abortion was not illegal on moral grounds. It was a state policy to increase the population which made contraception and family planning education also illegal or at least non-existent.
Ironically, statistics showed that the population did not increase nowhere near close to what was expected.
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48 of 52 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What A Difference A Day Makes, January 24, 2008
By 
Alex Udvary (chicago, il United States) - See all my reviews
Some films are able to dazzle you without the use of special effects, big Hollywood stars and nudity. They manage to crawl under your skin and get inside you. They leave an indeliable mark on you. Cristian Mungiu's "4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (4 luni, 3 saptamani si 2 zile)" is such a film. And easily one of the best films of 2007!

Whatever the reason, currently Romanian is a hot property. People and critics are just buzzing with excitement about what is going on in Romanian cinema. And even though I'm not Romanian (I'm Hungarian) I'm pretty excited about it too.

In 2006 there was the release of "The Death of Mr. Lazarescu", besides "4 luni, 3 saptamani si 2 zile", also released in 2007 was "12:08 East of Bucharest". These three films seem to be part of a new wave in Romanian film. Each takes on modern day society while questioning the past. All three are confrontational.

"4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days" takes place during a 24 hour period in which a young girl, Gabita Dragut (Laura Vasiliu) seeks an abortion in Ceausescu's Romania. At the time such acts were against the law. She needs the help of her roommate, Otilia (Anamaria Marinca) to sort out the details and supply some support, since the father of the child is not only never seen but never spoken of either.

The two girls get in contact with Bebe (Vlad Ivanou) through a mutual friend. Bebe is the only person who will perform an abortion after the 4th month, this is how the film gets its title. That is how long Gabita has been pregnant. Bebe though does not seem like a trust worthy kind of guy. He has something up his sleeve. But he will not be the end of their problems.

The film sets itself up as a thriller and believe it or not, it is suspenseful. There are no chase sequences, no cops and robbers, just the suspense that the two girls will get found out and risk prison and worst yet may have physical damage done to them.

Though the characters never speak directly about politics, Mungiu and his cinematographer, Oleg Mutu (who also shot "The Death of Mr. Lazarescu) very in subtle ways tell the viewer about life under Ceausescu. We can sense the paranoia of the times and the government control. ID's are contantly asked for and checked. Streets are empty. Everyone buys supplies from the black market. Even if you are not familiar we the history of Romanian we can see or at least get a sense of what life was like under the times.

The film is fully conceived and realized by Mungiu who has directed only one other feature film entitled "Occident". Every character is believeable as is their situation. I never questioned whether or not what was on-screen could or could not happen. It is accepted as truth. But the standout performances are given by the girls. Neither has much experience. Marinca has a brief role in Francis Ford Coppola's "Youth Without Youth", also set in Romania. And Vasiliu has only acted in one other film, Nicolae Margineau's masterpiece "Bless You, Prison". With such little acting experience how on Earth did these girl pull off these roles? They are the heart and soul of the film and deserve every bit of acclaim they get for this movie and more.

And the film has been getting acclaim. It was the winner of the Palm d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival. It won a prize at the Chicago Film Critics Award and was nominated for a Golden Globe. Sadly though, it has received no Oscar nominations, showing the Academy's prejudice towards countries on the eastern side of the Berlin Wall.

Mingiu says the film is only the first part of a series he plans on making ironically entitled "Tales From the Golden Age". I look forward to seeing all of them.

Bottom-line: One of 2007's best films. An intense film that becomes all the more shocking when you think "this feels true". Two strong performances by the young girls in the film are highlights.
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49 of 55 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Unhollywood, October 18, 2008
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This review is from: 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (DVD)
What if it was true?

Almost no one would answer the question on what would happen if abortions WERE outlawed by the State. Would we jail the women? Kill the abortionists? It's out of the question in a civilized nation. Right? Well... not exactly. Communist Romania did outlaw abortion during the 70's and 80's. The reasons were not exactly humanitarian but the end result was that early abortions were punished with a few years in prison and late term abortions, past the 4th month were treated as murders. This is the telling of a (possibly true) story from those years. It's an illustration of what we here, in the States, like to call a `back alley abortion'. The back alley, in this case, is a hotel room, a rather decent one.

The visual environment and the way characters interact are consistent with Romania's impoverished status back in 1987 - there's little color, little hope, few lights at night, little joy. The few extras we see are shown as small, disoriented, defeated people performing absurd or incomprehensible (to us) activities such as wandering aimlessly in the night, lining up in queues or risking whatever was left of their freedom for some meager black market profits. Everyone seems to be indifferent, corruptible, bored, boring, alone, lonely but surprisingly well-mannered, given the circumstances. Had this been a Hollywood production, we might have ended up watching a zombie or a body-snatcher type of a movie but this one was made in East Europe and the Hollywood advisers didn't bother to offer their precious advice so what we see are the memories of a reality not completely dead.

Gabriela (Gabi) is a senior student who shares a dorm room and has a good friend in Otilia. She seems to understand little about the facts of life and, once she turns pregnant, she tries to do what everyone viewed as the `natural' choice those days - end the pregnancy through an abortion.

Otilia is Gabi's roommate and her best friend. She makes everything happen while Gabi is passively waiting for the problem to go away. A senior student, Otilia views her own future either as living a boring life, helping run some remote factory or as a possible housewife following her 'man', making mashed potatoes and maybe playing mommy for him. She is under no illusion that he would ever stand up for her if not doing so was a more convenient or a safer option. Living in a dorm, sharing a room with Gabriela, she has no choice but mature a little. She is dating the son of a more well-to-do family but she doesn't expect much from him beyond some brief moments of intimacy. She feels obligated to help Gabriela because no one else would and, if she didn't, she would be completely alone. She's not only Gabi's friend, she's her mother too because she needs to care about someone and because no one else would volunteer.

Otilia's boyfriend (forgot the name) at 23 or 24 is still his mother's baby. Otilia doesn't trust him with much beyond his ability to provide her with a little intimacy.

Bebe, the abortionist, is a loving son who doesn't forget to stop and make sure that his old, helpless mother is okay on his way to the abortion. He is quite good at what he does. He sterilizes his tools; he is using antibiotics and provides good post-procedure advice. He even offers to make a free follow up visit. He is also demanding some special type of compensation for his services.

Otilia is the main character. All throughout the movie, the camera follows her and all others are relevant to the extent that Otilia interacts with them. This makes sense because she is the only one who DOES anything. Everyone else appears to be devoid of initiative or free will. The plot is simple. Gabi wants to have her (illegal) abortion but she waits for Otilia to do most of the work and take most of the risks. It gets to a point where Otilia accepts having sex with the abortionist as payment for his services. Once the abortion is complete, Otilia helps dispose of the baby and life continues.

Gabriela, the pregnant one, has given up on almost everything. She seems to be willing to allow for "things" to be done for her or to her. She lies and she begs to get by. She is made pregnant, she lets Otilia arrange for her own abortion while she's busy waxing her legs, she lets the abortionist handle her body and she's not afraid because Otilia is there, watching, she doesn't object to his taking his pay by having sex with Otilia. She doesn't demand that Otilia agrees to that `payment' but she begs the abortionist not to leave when Otilia does not appear to be in the mood to pay with her own body. After the baby is aborted, Otilia, again, is the one who disposes of the little body while Gabi goes down to the restaurant, waiting for her return. The frightening suspicion (my suspicion) is that Gabi probably knew what type of `payment' the abortionist was going to demand but she goes along with it all because that option was going to be `cheaper'.

Overall, while `abortion' is what all of this seems to be about, the more subtle and the more frightening aspect is the background and IT is important because this movie is meant to be a snapshot of life `then'. What we see is a nation or a world where meaningful interactions beyond some immediate family ties are close to non-existent. Paradoxically, while the communist utopia called for a society where individuals were perfectly integrated into their communities, what we observe is a caricature Hobbesian world. It's a world were all the good pickings were already picked by some invisible entities and everyone else is struggling for the leftovers and they are allowed to do so for as long as they are not overtly disruptive to the imposed order. The symbolism is subtle but powerful - Otilia walking or running around on her numerous errands, usually at night, always alone, followed by or crossing paths with stray dogs and strangers without faces, the omnipresent policemen, Otilia and Gabi being served leftovers from a wedding at their post-abortion meal. There are no or little moral concerns. Whatever works is good for as long as it works and that includes Gabriela's choice to abort. No one - Gabriela, Otilia, Bebe - ever expresses any second thoughts about the morality of what they were about to do, their concerns seem to be about Gabi's health (infection), the inconvenience of her possibly having to wait for a day or two before the artificial miscarriage takes place and the risks of being caught and punished. Gabi does seem to show some sympathy for her baby AFTER it is all done and the baby lies on the bathroom floor, as she asks Otilia to bury him rather than throw the little body in the trash. It's frightening because the world used to be like that THERE and THEN and it's frightening because, chance areit seems, the world is trending in that direction EVERYWHERE but, hopefully, not FOREVER.

I am giving this movie 5 stars not because the Frenchies gave it their Palme d'Or at Cannes but because this movie is unafraid to discuss topics that us, Americans, not unlike Otilia's boyfriend, can only accept when served to us in the form of brightly-colored sci-fi, make-believe allegories that can't possibly be real. It gets stars for courage, for Anamaria Marinca's (Otilia) acting, for the director's ability to tell a hard to tell, horrifying story.

Little notes: there is no overt violence, there is some brief nudity but sexual activities are not explicitly displayed. The aborted, bloodied fetus is shown. The dialogues are in Romanian with English and Spanish subtitles available. There is no music, sound effects, explosions or any other kind of special effects.

DVD Extras:

- A short documentary following a German 'movie caravan' that, after the Palme d'Or award, attempted to show the movie to Romanians. The country has only 37-50 movie theaters left, serving about 25 million people.

- An extraordinary, MUST SEE, interview with Writer/Director/Producer Cristian Munjiu, discussing the ethics of cinematographically telling a story.

- An interview with Cinematographer Oleg Mutu.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still speechless and scarred by this picture., March 29, 2009
This review is from: 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (DVD)
This movie is a haunting and harrowing tale set in Ceaucescu's Romania. centered on a pair of college dorm mates, Gabita and Otilia, who we encounter on the day Gabita, with Otilia's help, seeks to terminate her unwanted pregnancy.

This is a bleak and disturbing film tackling a very emotional subject. Cristian Mungiu has delivered a masterpiece, a film so powerful it will leave scars with the viewer long after watching it. The material is raw, filmed beautifully to capture the raw feelings and emotions of the characters, the ugly and drab feel of a communist country and the ever present authoritarian hand of the state. Some of the scenes are unnerving, especially the hotel scene when Gabita and Otilia are "negotiating" with the man who will perform the abortion. In any society, the choice to terminate an unwanted pregnancy is not one that is positive or cause for happiness. The reality of facing this reality in the society that Mungiu brings to life is even more dispiriting. There are no good choices for Gabita and Otilia and one cannot begin to imagine the mental wounds that they will be left with for the rest of their lives.

The craftmanship of this film is most evident during two parts of the film. The first is when Otilia is visiting her boyfriend Adi's parents apartment to celebrate his mother's birthday. The scenes in the apartment are stunning in how they are shot, especially the bulk of the dining room scene -- shot from one angle, the expressiveness of Otilia, her anguish at having to put up with this family, their celebration and them and their friends sarcastic denigration of her is about as good as movies get. Additionally, the scenes where Otilia is roaming the streets of the city looking for a place to dispose of the fetus is riveting and terrifying -- most horror films should take a lesson from Mungiu. We keep expecting something even worse to befall Otilia, as if disposing of her friend and roommate's dead fetus isn't bad enough. Nothing bad happens but the eerie darkness, haunting sounds and frigid weather left me on the edge of my seat. This part of the picture for me was a metaphor for the evil big brother authoritarian state chasing Otilia and her friend Gabita no matter how hard they'll try to run from it.

This is a movie that is too important not to watch. It features top-notch acting, phenomenal dialogue and great directing. It is a frightening view in to the realities of society under an authoritarian political regime. Be prepared to be effected in a deep and dramatic way because this movie will touch even the most hardened person.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars stunning, November 12, 2009
This review is from: 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (DVD)
The rawness of this movie captivates you. I don't think a movie has been this brave in a very long time. It's so real, so righteous, and you're left there really feeling for the characters and their situations. I think it's an absolutely excellent movie.

I think people need to stop being so close-minded and high-horsed, and take this movie for what it is, for the skills that went into making it. Which is complete brilliance.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No country for young women, December 28, 2008
By 
Westley (Stuck in my head) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (DVD)
Otilia (Anamaria Marinca) is a college student who agrees to help her roommate (Gabita played by Laura Vasiliu) obtain an illegal abortion in 1980s Communist Romania. The two girls, unfortunately, are completely naive as to what will be involved. As a result, they make several key blunders that threaten not just whether the abortion will succeed but their psychological well-being too.

"4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days" focuses on the dangers of the illegal abortion, but the film also illustrates in small and large ways the oppressiveness of living in Communist Romania. The girls have to show their ID cards every time they go to their hotel room, they have to buy most items on the black market, and the police and other authoritarian figures seem to be a constant presence. "4 Months" received stellar reviews when released, but I avoided it initially, fearing that it would be preachy or heavy-handed. I couldn't have been more wrong. Although the film is a drama, it often plays as a tense thriller. The abortion may kill Gabita, but it's just one threat she and Otilia face.

The movie was filmed on hand-held digital cameras, which adds an immediacy and urgency. At times, the camerawork is blurry, particularly a night scene with Otilia, but that just adds to the realism of the story. "4 Months" is the kind of film that actually benefits from its small budget and primitive camera work, and I look forward to seeing more work from director Cristian Mungiu in the future. The acting is also naturalistic, which again adds realism to the story. Anamaria Marinca is excellent - we can feel her growing weariness and frustration just by reading her face and tone of voice (which is sometimes difficult to do with a foreign language film). Vlad Ivanov turns in a fascinating performance as the creepy abortionist; he's one of the more menacing yet controlled characters I've seen on the screen. It all adds up to a heart-breaking portrait of what can happen in totalitarian societies where everything has its price.

The film was nominated for numerous "foreign film" prizes, including the Golden Globe. The Oscars overlooked the movie, even though it was Romania's official selection; I'm not sure why it failed to earn a nomination. Finally, "4 Months" won the Palm d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival, where it beat "No Country for Old Men."
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good though not great movie....no spoilers in my review, May 18, 2012
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This movie was a slow drama with not too much suspense. The story is set in Romania. It is about a pregnant college girl who with the help of her roommate wants to get an abortion. Abortions were illegal at that time since the government wanted to repopulate the country and so put in place an abortion ban as well as a birth control ban. I did not honestly find it edge-of-the-seat exciting or suspenseful as mentioned in the Amazon description. Maybe I would have felt differently had I not read the reviews and knew what was about to happen in each scene. Most importantly, I strongly urge viewers not to read any reviews at all because they give away the little punch and thrill that the movie does have.I give it three stars for its uniqueness and an interesting story line. I found some of the scenes were drawn out too long making it boring. Reviewers did say that this is an authentic portrayal of the 80's in Romania and I watched it to get an insight into that aspect. The movie did make me think back on the depth and strength of the friendship between these two girls and examine the differences in their characters.The ending was abrupt to say the least and left me hanging. I did not feel I wasted an hour 53 minutes on this movie but the movie did leave me a bit bored and unentertained. This is a movie to watch just once.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Character driven film, March 24, 2011
This review is from: 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (DVD)
This movie is simply put a film driven by characters. There's no annoying background music, big explosions, special effects, unnecessarily-complicated storyline and what-have-you. Hollywood can learn something from this movie, and I pray that they do! The acting, directing, cinematography are "minimal" yet superb! Or should I say it's superb because it's minimal?

I highly recommend this film but I have to warn you that this is not a feel good movie. Watch it when you feel like watching intellectual/serious film, watch it on a rainy/cold day, watch it alone, and appreciate it!

This movie put Hollywood to shame, really.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Best Friend, February 14, 2008
By 
MICHAEL ACUNA (Southern California United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Gabita (Laura Vasiliu) is pregnant, clueless and yet realizes, though against the laws of the land she lives in: Romania circa 1987 under a Ceausescu dictatorship, that she needs an abortion. Her college room mate, Otilia (Anamaria Marinca) is beyond reason more than concerned and ready to help her friend. And help her friend she does: driving her to the hotel, securing the money to pay for and doing just about anything she can do to help her friend terminate an unwanted pregnancy. But what are Otilia's real motives? Is she so against Ceausescu's policy of population enrichment that she would risk her personal safety, break the law of the land, is she in love with Gabita and thus willing to do anything to make her happy or is she merely pro-abortion? It really is never quite clear though the details of director Cristian Mungiu's film are fascinating to watch as this world is as foreign to most Westerners as the world of "Star Wars" or "Alien."
The dramatic propulsion here is one of, not only what is going to happen next but one of what is this world, what is this time, what are the principles of life and day-to-day living that we are watching here? Why is Otilia so dedicated to Gabita who proves to be a cipher: young, dumb, silly, unaware...yet there is that nagging feeling that Gabita brings Otilia along for some other reason having to do with the abortionist: the evil, smarmy Mr. Bebe (Vlad Ivanov), who is obviously out for something more than the money.
"4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days" is a puzzle: a puzzle that has no definite resolution. Yet with that said, it is also very simple recalling the movies of Ken Loach in it's refusal to shy away from the ugliness of everyday life and the vagaries and tribulations of the people who inhabit it. This film is not easy to love and it certainly is not easy to fully understand but the cumulative images of it amount to something real, something thoughtful and something important. And that in itself makes it easy for me to recommend.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very real protrayal of what went on in Romania, December 28, 2012
By 
ahiker4u (California, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (DVD)
In brief, my wife is from Romania and lived there during the communist years. Her comment on this movie is that it could have been based on many true situations. She would know. The scenery in the movie such as the buildings is how it was and still is in some places. I myself traveled to Romania several times in the last 8 years. I enjoyed the realism of this movie, the acting, the setting, but the subject matter can be very upsetting to some. I was deeply disturbed. Be forwarned of graphic images.

Warning! This is NOT a movie for young children or the weak at heart.
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4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days
4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days by Cristian Mungiu (DVD - 2008)
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