Monday, March 24, 2008

Cinematic Abortions

The volatile, hot-button issue of abortion has rarely been tackled with real cinematic and intelligence. American films like The Cider House Rules and If These Walls Could Talk are, on the whole, too smug and too simplistic in their respective handling of the issue. In comes Cristian Mingiu's film, 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days completely and utterly stripped of politics, the film is probably one of the most poignant films on abortion ever made.
Set in Romania in the 1980's, the film follows a day in the life of Otillia (Anamaria Marinca), a young woman trying to procure an abortion (which was illegal in the country at the time) for her none-too-bright friend Gabita (Laura Vasilliu). The film's brutally raw honesty can get a little bit uncomfortable at times. The lead performance of Annamaria Marinca is truly amazing. Despite her character's inexplicable actions such as actually prostituting herself when the abortionist they hired was angrily backing out and her almost saintly devotion to her half-wit of a friend, she makes it all seem believable. In a scene during a party at boyfriend's family's house, she sits in the middle of the table not saying a word, she still manages to be a focal point of the scene and convey a multitude of emotions.
Freed from the need to convey anything political or make a firm stand on the issue, Mingiu instead made a film that's truly a gripping story on the lengths someone can go through for friendship and at the same time, a fascinating look into a time and culture seldom seen outside of it's country. It's truly a staggering piece of cinema.

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