4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days
I wanted to talk about how District 9 fails, and Avatar wins, but I think instead I will talk about a Romanian film about abortion. If you scroll down lower in the website you may come across my appeal for Cinematheque Ontario’s “Best of the Decade” film festival, which is a selection of artsy films from the last decade playing at the AGO’s Jackman Hall, presumably named after famed actor Hugh Jackman. Anyway, I went to see 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days. The film opened at the awesomely named Transilvania International Film Festival in 2007, and went on to world wide acclaim winning the Palme d’Or in the same year, and (probably) brought acknowledgement to the Romanian film industry. The film takes place in 80’s communist Romania, and follows two female college students over the course of a day as one of them attempts to get an abortion, which are illegal at the time.
The film is paced as an intense thriller as opposed to a period melodrama. I love thrillers, especially when you’re left begging the characters on the screen to just get the thing that you know they are going to do over with so that you can kindly excuse yourself to go change your pants. I think it is because I am really high strung, and I find it cathartic. As well, I was really happy that the movie avoided super depressing melodrama. That’s what seems to get critics going, a foreign movie that is a super depress fest where everyone get’s screwed in the end, but I think those movies blow. They’re like the cinematic equivalent of eating boiled eggplant: you’re told it’s enriching, but you hate enduring it. The biggest problem is that foreign melodramas can so easily become unreasonably contrived: while your heart eats itself, the film purports to be realistic. Critics use to eat that stuff up. You ever see anything by Lars Von Trier? Oh man! It’s like getting punched in the stomach. That is something I really liked about this film; it avoided over the top contrivances, making it infinitely more relatable and real, except for one part that really bugged me. With the risk of sounding offensive, how come in any movie when you have a black market dealer, they either proposition women for sex, or try to sell men something incredibly immoral and illegal (like a suitcase bomb), or proposition men for sex? Why can’t black market dealers just be all business? I mean don’t get me wrong, the whole scenario in the film was believable, but how come these women couldn’t find a Romanian Vera Drake?
Anyway, here’s a twist: the suspense didn’t have me the whole way. I was never in full crap-my-pants mode except for a couple of scenes, and I was wishing that I would be in cmp mode for the whole film. I only really got an appreciation for the movie afterwards talking to my buddy who was on edge of his seat throughout the movie. He made me realize how well made the movie was, and how strong all the characters were. The two protagonists are going through this terrifying situation, and you can tell that they didn’t know what to expect, but they are not wimps, and they show a great deal of bravery, as well as dimension. I think the suspense was lost on me, because I have the misfortune of lacking a viable uterus. I guess my friend doesn’t have a uterus either, and he really liked it. I’m trying to say the movie capably builds tension naturalistically, making you uncomfortable, and you cannot predict the outcome of any scene, but only imagine the worst. I just wasn’t as invested in the consequences as much as I was in say...No Country for Old Men or Inglourious Basterds, two films featuring manly-men like me. I think this is because maybe I don’t really relate with the protagonists, and the trials the heroines face are better suited for other women to watch. I think it is totally okay to make thrillers better suited for women because how many women watched 300 and were like “wow, its tough having all the testosterone!” Also, I have a problem with the whole naturalistic style, which is popular these days. I will have to get into that later. You should watch this movie. I think it will be infinitely more engrossing if you are not a misogynistic cinema nerd like me. The characters are real and well acted, the story is well written, and best of all you leave the movie theatre (more like you close VLC) not feeling used by the director.
The best part of the film is that the setting makes it impossible to be remade by Hollywood. Well, that’s until Sarah Palin becomes president in 2012 and outlaws abortions. Then when her two terms are up and the Democrats take office again in 2020 the film can be remade with Dakota Fanning and Abigail Breslin, and will take place in Boston. That movie is going to win a shit-ton of Oscars. Mark my words.