4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days
Last year at the movies, two fiercely independent American women brought unplanned pregnancies to term—decisions that delighted comedy fans, if not those who confuse protecting abortion with insisting upon it. The attendant debate, a healthy one, should also include this harrowing Romanian drama. Set in late-1980s Bucharest, still behind the Iron Curtain, Mungiu’s film concerns Gabita (Vasiliu), a young woman in trouble, and, more centrally, Otilia (Marinca), her tougher friend who’s coming along to support her through an illegal procedure with a black-market abortionist. The centerpiece of the film is that negotiation, which plays out in a nondescript hotel room. The smug Bebe (Vlad Ivanov) escalates his demands, and the hellish crucible of economics, power games and sex—what abortion really is for so many—comes into sharp focus.