4 MONTHS, 3 WEEKS AND 2 DAYS
Review by Gordon Justesen
Anamaria Marinca, Laura Vasiliu, Vlad Ivanov
Director: Cristian Mungiu
Audio: DTS HD 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Features: See Review
Length: 113 Minutes
Release Date: January 22, 2019
“We’re never going to talk about this again, ok?”
The establishing of the New Romanian cinema, following the fall of Romania’s communist government, led to some truly astonishing art. The best example of which is Cristian Mungiu’s unrelentingly haunting masterpiece, 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, which deservingly won the top prize at Cannes in 2007. Like so many films in the Romanian New Wave, it is a raw depiction of the time period under which the country was under communist rule...which is a freedom every artist in Romania was now able to fully express.
The setting is 1987, and the story is quite simple. College student Otilia (Anamaria Marinca) is painstakingly making arrangements for her roommate, Gabita (Laura Vasiliu) to carry out an abortion. Such an act was considered illegal during that time, and the immense level of secrecy associated with planning such an act is conveyed in a fashion that can only be best described as purely awestruck. Rarely has the feeling of being a fly on the wall been more purely felt on the part of the viewer, which is made even more potent considering the story unfolds in a 24 hour time period.
From minute one, we are subjected the ever growing level of anxiety placed on Otilia as she is effortlessly making every necessary move to make sure everything regarding her roommate’s wishes happens without a hitch. With a hospital out of the question, the only other option for them is a hotel room. Only adding unwanted tension to the already tension-filled situation is the arrival of the abortionist himself, Mr. Bebe (Vlad Ivanov).
A majority of the power the film delivers is attributed to the filmmaking established by Cristian Mungiu and his cinematographer, Oleg Mutu. Virtually every camera shot is a long take, further allowing the realism and the horror of the situation to be even more strikingly conveyed. A grand example is when Otilia, right after the abortion has taken place, finds herself at a dinner party at the request of her boyfriend, which actually turns out to be one of the more nerve-shredding parts of the film.
As one can imagine, the film is a very tough watch. But for those seeking a film displaying the power of cinema, 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days is a deeply rewarding viewing experience in every way, shape and form. It goes without saying that it’s unquestionably one of the most unforgettable films of the past decade.
Criterion kicks off 2019 with quite a bang, as this film is given a masterful debut on Blu-ray. The 4K mastering of the film results in a thoroughly stunning presentation. The powerful long takes throughout the film are made even more so courtesy of the striking display of the terrifically detailed image quality, as only Criterion can provide. Both daytime and nighttime sequences are delivered in a purely rich fashion, with light and black levels coming off in superb rich form!
The DTS mix is exquisitely masterful in every way, which is saying quite a lot considering the film doesn’t contain an ounce of music on the soundtrack. The dialogue delivery and the various organic sounds associated with the realistic setting are outstandingly heard throughout the proceedings.
The Blu-ray release from Criterion contains some terrific and informative extras, most notably the video interview segments with writer/director Cristian Mungiu as well as critic Jay Weissberg, the latter of which provides a great deal of info on New Romanian cinema. Also included is a short documentary titled “The Romanian Tour”, which details the country’s reception of the film, in addition to footage from a press conference at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival, Alternate and Deleted Scenes, a Trailer and an insert featuring an essay from critic Ella Taylor.
4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days is cinema at its most potent and unflinching. It places the viewer in a state rarely felt, that of an eyewitness. That combined with the astonishing filmmaking make for an incredibly powerful film experience that is simply hard to shake from your system.