At the very outset i should tell you that this is my first review of a movie. Although i have seen a lot of movies, (and by a lot, i mean, A LOT) i never had it in me to express the influence movies have had on me. But this Romanian movie i saw last really stirred something in me that i thought i should write down for future reference.
4 luni, 3 săptămâni şi 2 zile (in Romanian) or 4 months 3 weeks and 2 days is a 2007 Romanian film based in 1987 Romania and revolves around the story of two university friends, Otilia and Gabita, who are also roommates. Although the main plot of the story is the abortion procedure conducted on Gabita; undoubtedly, Otilia is the driving force of the film. Communist Romania under the rule of Ceausescu had made abortion illegal during the period 1966-1989, hence the girls had made arrangements to get the job done under cover. And Otilia being the friend that she is supposed to be, helps Gabita and helps her so much, indeed, that she does everything but have the abortion herself. The film records the struggles undergone by Otilia during the course of one day as she interacts with different people, namely the receptionist at the hotel, who has a indifferent attitude to her; Mr. Bebe(the doctor who is supposed to conduct the procedure on Gabita); Adi, her boyfriend and middle aged people at Adi’s house.
Halfway through the film you realize that much of Otilia’s exertion is because of Gabita’s stupidity. Through the characters portrayed by these two very different women, you reflect on how the film would have played out had the roles been reversed. In all the many highlights of the film, from silent sequences to haggling to a silent center of chaos, you realize how much grimness surrounded Otilia in the film. And when you sift through the scenes, you understand the natural conversations are no more artful than realistic. In so much as half the film, you will find the background score or the silence doing the work; silence plays a significant part in the film. In all that which you watch there are two particular scenes which i cannot do without mentioning.
The first is the actually divided into two parts of seven and a half minute each at Adi’s house. The first part of it when Otilia is sitting at the centre of all the chaos surrounding her where all the elders at the table play out an arbitrary conversation among themselves on topics as far fetched as the colour of Easter eggs when they started off from present school education in Romania. It’s disturbing to see Otilia sit out through the entire irrelevance when we know what she has just been through.The second part of this is played out with Adi, when somehow the discussion swerves off to what Adi would do if Otilia were in Gabita’s shoe then. Inspite of Adi’s sincere apologies, Otilia is unfazed and asks for the phone.
The second is the scene when after having dumped the foetus Otilia joins Gabita at the restaurant of the hotel where Gabita is waiting for dinner. There are no meaningful words exchanged between the two, but the unnatural silence, amidst the chattering of the crowd at the back, is hard to miss. As Gabita’s dinner is served and Otilia asks the waiter for more time to think over her order, Gabita flips through the menu card and Otilia stares at her friend without as so much as a blink and Gabita never looks up even once. As the last few seconds of the film unrolls you notice reflections of the headlights of two cars in the distance and you realize that there is a glass screen between the camera and the ladies.
Few films have had such an impact on me as 4 months 3 weeks and 2 days has had and it is for none other than Anamaria Marinca, who played Otilia in the movie, that i realized a woman’s best friend is she herself.