Thursday, July 30, 2009

World Movie Series - 26 - 4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days

How far would you go for a friend?

This is the tagline for the movie ‘4 Months, 3 weeks & 2 days’ (4 luni, 3 saptamâni si 2 zile), a Romanian movie. Set in the days of 1987 in Romania, the movie talks about a day in the lives of two friends, Otilia & Gabriela. They both are roommates in a dormitory of the college they are studying. The movie begins when they both are packing for what looks like a trip. But that thought gets changed when Gabriela comments to Otilia that she packs like they are going for a picnic. Otilia gives her a dry look and buys soap and cigars from the other students in the dorm. Gabriela asks Otilia can she bring her exam notes to study, and Otilia says yes.

Otilia goes out to meet her boyfriend Adi. She asks him about the money and Adi hands over her the money she asked for. Adi invites her to visit his home that evening as it’s his mom’s birthday. He also asks her to get some flowers. Otilia says she can’t come that evening as she has some important work. Adi starts persuading her and finally she gives in.

Otilia then goes to a hotel to confirm a room which was booked by Gabriela the previous day through phone, but the receptionist argues to her that it was not confirmed and no body called the previous day to book the room. Otilia pleads the receptionist that she desperately needs the room, but the cold receptionist denies it and asks her to leave.

Otilia goes to another hotel to book a room, and from the receptionist, she learns that a double room is available. She books it, asks Gabriela to occupy the room and she goes to meet a man named Bebe. When meeting Bebe, he enquires Otilia about where is Gabriela and she tells that Gabriela is sick. Bebe tells her that it is a part of the agreement that Gabriela has to meet him and not Otilia, and after knowing that the room has been booked in a cheaper hotel than the originally planned one, Bebe gets angry. He tells Otilia that he is totally unhappy on them for breaking the rules.


He then visits the hotel. At the reception, he has to hand over his id. While in the room, he explains to both the girls that he has risked his life by giving the id in the reception and that if caught, can get years of imprisonment. Only then, it becomes evident that he has come to do an abortion for Gabriela.

He enquires Gabriela about the pregnancy and gets to know that she is on her fourth month, as opposed to what she initially told to him in phone that she is only 2 months with her pregnancy. This infuriates Bebe further more. When the girls offer him 3000 lei (Romanian currency), he says he didn’t talk about the money initially. Also, Gabriela had lied initially to Bebe that Otilia is her sister, but he learns that they both are just roommates. He makes it clear to the girls that he wants to have sex with both of them before he aborts the baby.

Otilia reluctantly agrees, as there is no other way. Bebe has sex with both the girls, and then he performs the abortion by using a probe, pouring something like a fluid in to her vagina. He tells her not to move, and when the fetus comes out, he asks her to dispose it, and leaves.

Otilia and Gabriela are left alone. After a few minutes soaked with the pressure of intolerable silence, Otilia tells Gabriela that it’s a foolish move to have hired Bebe and instead, they would have gone to the other lady suggested by one of her friends. Gabriela says they chose Bebe only because he was cheap, and it was Otilia who decided on it. Otilia retorts back that she didn’t chose Bebe and she only suggested going to the cheaper option. She then says nothing can be undone now, since things have happened in this way.

After a while, she gets ready to visit her boyfriend’s home for his mother’s birthday. She gets a tram and reaches his home a bit late. She is totally torn in to pieces inside, but attends the party for the sake of her boyfriend. In the party, both Adi’s parents and their friends keep on blabbering about the society and their old days and how Adi likes potatoes and boring things. Otilia remains silent throughout. One of the guests gives a lecture on family values when Otilia asks for a cigar, and how girls should remain as girls by not smoking with the elderly people in their family. Finally, when the party ends, both Otilia and Adi go to Adi’s room, and they start talking about the reason she arrived late. Otilia tells Adi that she was helping Gabriela for the abortion, and Adi seems disturbed. He says he is against abortions, and adds later that it was only because it’s dangerous. Otilia starts arguing with Adi about what will happen if Otilia gets pregnant since last week he blew up inside her as against to her repeated warnings. Adi tells, if she becomes pregnant, he will marry her. This infuriates Otilia further. She becomes totally irritated, as she can’t just digest everything that has happened to her since that morning. She decides to leave when Gabriela doesn’t answer her call, and in spite of Adi’s protests that she needs to talk to her parents before leaving, Otilia leaves the home.

Otilia reaches the room, and learns that Bebe has left his id in the reception. Back at the room, Gabriela tells Otilia that the fetus has come out, and it is in the bathroom. Otilia goes in to the bathroom and finds the dead fetus on the floor. She wraps the fetus with towels and goes out to dispose it. Gabriela pleads her to bury the baby, and she leaves. She moves here and there with the fetus in hand, and finally, goes to the top of a building and drops the fetus in to a trash tube.

She then returns to the hotel. She finds Gabriela in the dining hall, as she is famished. Otilia tells to Gabriela that they both have to forget about the whole incident, and they are never to talk about it in their lives again. Gabriela doesn’t answer, and after a few minutes of silence, Otilia drinks some water. The movie ends.

‘4 Months, 3 weeks & 2 days’ is a striking film about the modern day youth and the difference between the society of the youth and that of the elderly people. Through the discussion happening at the dining table in Adi’s mom’s birthday party, we learn that the elderly people are still in the mirage of ‘family values’ when there is nothing like that in reality, and the youth are more concerned on living their day today life, instead of worrying about morality and ‘family values’. Also, we get to know about the relationship between Adi and Otilia. It gets sour day by day, as Otilia snorts to Adi that she is not ready to prepare potatoes to Ad all through her life. Otilia is a more practical person than Adi who is more like a person who believes in his family and all the old values his parents suggest.

The relationship between Otilia and Gabriela is another important thing in the movie. Although Otilia doesn’t like all the lies of Gabriela to Bebe, she stills feels that she must support her roommate by all means, and as a result, loses herself to Bebe because of his demands. She tries to be a bold person throughout, and fights with her boyfriend for the sake of her friend.

‘4 Months, 3 weeks & 2 days’ was released in the year 2007 and won the Palm d’Or at the Cannes film festival in the same year. It also won many international awards, and was received well by the critics and the Romanian people. It was directed by Cristian Mungiu.

Overall, the movie raises a lot of questions in our mind. When I bought the DVD, the owner of the DVD shop said to me that if he has the powers, he will make every college in the country to screen the movie. To me, I think there is no meaning to rules if they don’t support and help he people, and there is no use in opposing something when it is inherent in the society around us. Instead, it will be good if critical issues like abortions are looked upon with a kind heart, rather than an iron fist.

Watch the trailer here.


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