4 luni, 3 săptămâni şi 2 zile

[Screenshot]This is one of the few films I’ve watched recently that actually made me authentically queasy and wish I could unsee it. Not because it’s bad — it’s in fact very well done, but because it touches on some horrific personal experiences. The actions of the two leads fall into an awful range of flawed verisimillitude which is both hard to sympathize with and makes one feel like a total asshole for not sympathizing with. Despite the centrality of the Ceauşescu regime both in setting and in the primary plot point, this doesn’t come across as a political film, but limits its scope to individuals. While the repressive atmosphere sets the stage for the drama, the story is ultimately more about what people do in crisis than the facile theme that “Ceauşescu was horrible and illegalizing abortion causes more harm than good”.

Anyways, to the leads and their crises. It is, as mentioned above, hard to find either of them terrifically sympathetic, in spite of pity for their plight. Gabriela comes across as astonishingly thoughtless and reckless, dragging Otilia into a situation she knows she can’t control, lying blithely and assuming she can muddle her way through, without regard to the collatoral damage she’s visiting upon her friend. Otilia, on the other hand, shows astonishing patience with this bullshit, but even that comes across as a flaw in light of Gabriela’s complete thoughtlessness: how far should one really go to help someone who won’t help themselves? Gabriela drags Otilia into an invidious position, one where the path of reason might be to walk out.

But, as I said, thinking like this makes me feel like a horrible person, because these people both deserve (and have) my pity. But I find it very hard to actually sympathize. This may well be the intent: this is a powerful and affecting film, largely due to excellent acting by Anamarie Marinca, and the sense of bleak, hopeless helplessness it induces may very wll be what it meant to accomplish.

See also: IMDB, Wikipedia.

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About Jake
I'm a mathematics professor at the University of Louisville, and a geek.

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