4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (2007): Ramifications of an illegal abortion
4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, is a vicious, hard boiled and brilliantly made Romanian film by writer–director Cristian Mungiu. It won the Palme d’Or and the FIPRESCI Award at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival.
The film is set in Communist Romania of late 1980s in the final years of the Nicolae Ceausescu era. It tells the story of two students, roommates in the university dormitory, who try to arrange an illegal abortion. This movie won lots of accolades and received enthusiastic response from critics describing as gripping, satisfying film and particularly noted the use of minimalism and ‘formal rigor’ as defining aesthetic characteristics, with the pitch perfect and the camera’s lightning expression without following the action, we see it expresses consciousness of the character itself. By all mean this is a brilliantly performed cast, and an absolute stunning achievement for the new Romanian Cinema
The film is the story about Otilia Mihartescu (Anamaria Marinca) and Gabriela ‘Gabița’ Dragut (Laura Vasiliu), two university friends in an unnamed Romanian town. The story is set in the year 1987, during the last years of the Ceausescu’s regime. When Gabița becomes pregnant, the two girls arrange a meeting with Bebe (Vlad Ivanov) in a hotel, where he is to perform an illegal abortion (this is in the backdrop of Communist Romania policy against abortion).
Gabița and Otilia review the items they need for the day at the college dormitory-Gabița nervously sits and waits in the room, Otilia barters and buys soap, cigarettes, etc. from school friends. Soon after, Otilia takes a bus to visit her boyfriend Adi, from whom she borrows money. Adi asks Otilia to visit his family that night, as it is his mother’s birthday, and to buy flowers on the way, to which Otilia initially declines, but she relents after Adi becomes upset.
Gabita books the hotel room as Otilia heads to meet her there, only to be informed by an unfriendly receptionist that there is no reservation under Gabița’s last name. This makes Otilia to go another hotel after much wrangling and negotiating is able to book a room at an expensive rate. In this trail, Otilia meet Bebe at the rendezvous point. Bebe however is not convinced that Gabita is not at the hotel which they would have planned it earlier. Bebe discovers that Gabița’s claim that her pregnancy was in its third month is a lie, the fact has been at least four months of her conceive.
The two women were certain that they would pay no more than 3000 lei for the abortion. However, it slowly becomes clear to the women that he expects both women to have sex with him. Otilia reluctantly has sex with Bebe so that he will not walk out on them, and eventually Gabița does as well. Bebe then performs the abortion by injecting a probe and an unnamed fluid into Gabița’s uterus, and leaves Otilia instructions on how to dispose of the fetus when it comes out. Otilia is infuriated by Gabița’s lies, yet continues to help her and care for her.
Otilia leaves Gabița at the hotel to go to Adi’s mother’s birthday. She is still disturbed but stays and has dinner with Adi’s mother’s friends, who are mostly doctors. They all talk about trivial things while Otilia and Adi remain silent. The phone rings in the background, but no one answers it. One of the guests then starts talking about lost values and respect to elders when Otilia accepts a cigarette offered to her in front of Adi’s parents, which prompts Adi to bring the champagne in order to get the party over with. Adi and Otilia then go to his room where Otilia tells him about Gabița’s abortion, and they start talking about what would happen if it was Otilia who was pregnant since Adi seems to be against abortion. After fighting with Adi, Otilia calls Gabița from Adi’s house. We see Gabita do not answer the phone call. Thus decides Otilia to meet Gabita again.
On entering the room, Otilia watches Gabița lying on the bed and in the sense of nerve, Gabita tells Otilia that the fetus has come out and been lying in the bathroom and asks her to bury the fetus. Otilia then wraps the fetus with some towels and puts everything in a bag, and then goes outside and walks around for a while, finally climbing to the top of a random building, as Bebe had suggested, and dropping the bag in a trash chute.
Thus after the fateful event- Otilia then goes back to the hotel and finds Gabița sitting at the restaurant. They discuss the vital and tell Gabița that they are never going to talk about the episode ever again. We see the film’s departing moment- Otilia looks at the camera, leaving the audience to decide what will happen to the two friends.
The point of view that the director Cristian Mungiu depicts is the events of a single day in Bucharest, and in an inordinate detailed photography of Oleg Mutu. His eye to the dreariness of urban decay is so captivating and in frames, you notice those quiet and inexcusable chronicles of a nearly unnoticed tragedy. A slow-motion train wreck in the faint and crumbling urban world too far gone to care.
Thou’ the film is subjugated by circumstances surrounding abortion and the controversy around it lurks to overwhelm the conceivable crisis. This is one of the craftily thought about points that the Director Mungiu bypasses the arguments and talking points by relating the events of the crucial day, with the decision already made. It is fair to say that these sequences, and others that follow, throw into relief the terrible collateral of illegal backroom abortion. Pro-choice viewers may be quick to point out all the suffering and risk that could have been avoided if abortion were legal, and rightly so.
All these set in the final moment of truth, essentially the problem to be gotten rid at any cost is given the face of human sensitivity which are evenly confronted and rather like solicitousness that one manifests in the very end, and beyond the politics of anti-abortion in some countries ponders some hard questions !!
4 Months is a truthful attempt and the flanking interpretation of the film is very well attributed. Just as good this goes to the final scene is implausible, which finds one of the main characters sitting down to a meal in the restaurant of the hotel where the abortion was performed. A wedding reception is in full swing in the next room, but a fight has broken out in the party. The waiter brings a dish from the reception menu- beef, liver, kidneys, breaded brains. What happens when human beings treat one another as no more than this? 4 Months offers an unsettled human aberrant, but a different departure….