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Living Dangerously

by Archives November 20, 2007

Cristian Mungiu’s Four Months Three Weeks and Two Days is a film that takes place in 1987 about two young women and their quest for an abortion during the waning days of communist ruled Romania.
Gabita (Laura Vasiliu) and Otilla (Anamaria Marinca) are college students living in a dilapidated dormitory. After four months of pregnancy, Otilla decides to get an abortion. Gabita agrees to accompany her, but lands up sacrificing a lot more than just her time.
Communism is an ideology that can absolve the individual into the masses and controls both the public and private sphere that they belong to. Gabita breaks free from the governmental chains that bind her to do the unthinkable so that her best friend will succeed in making her choice of abortion possible. Although these women are fictitious characters in a film, their story is not. Abortion and contraceptives were made illegal in Romania from 1966 to 1989 and over 500, 000 women died from receiving illegal abortions.
Mungiu creates an emotional bond between the audience and the story.
Close ups are not used, background music is sparse. The charater’s inner thoughts are not revealed.
What makes the film so captivating is how Mungiu focuses the audience’s attention on Gabita and her efforts in helping her friend get the illegal procedure. Gabita’s drive to do anything in her power to grant Otilla agency over her own body proves that activism can take place even under the most suppressive circumstances by the most unlikely individuals. Gabita’s actions illustrate the desperate situation she and Otilla are in.
The strict rules of an authoritarian regime are never forgotten as the girls find the man that will perform the abortion, the hotel room they have to rent and the IDs they always have to carry and reveal to whoever might ask.
Mr. Bebe, the illegal abortionist, further binds these women as he takes advantage of their situation. Gabita and Otilla are poor students living away from home; they have no money and Otilla has waited too long to have a safe abortion. Mr. Bebe knows this and becomes yet another dominating figure that can be seen as a physical representation of Romanian communist ideology.
The abortion, because it occurs after the fetus is four months old, is considered murder. This knowledge looms over the heroines’ heads throughout the film.
These women do not have a choice about abortion or the right to receive contraceptive methods. Their bodies are bound to the government but they prove that their souls are not.
Catch Cristian Mungiu’s Four Months Three Weeks and Two Days at Cinema du Parc. Screening times: www.cinemaduparc.com.

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