After watching the excellent documentary THEY CAME TO PLAY, directed by Romanian filmmaker Alex Rotaru, I decided it was time to catch up on Romanian filmmaking by watching 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days. I had heard a lot of great things about the film, and I had loved the previous two Romanian films I had seen, The Death of Mr. Lazarescu and 12:08 East of Bucharest (previously reviewed on my blog).
Alas, 4 Months is nowhere near as good as either of those films. There is very little character development n the film; so little in fact that the film feels improvised, and not in a good, in a way that makes the film ramble pointlessly between scenes.
I did appreciate the cinematic choice of shooting almost every scene in one long continuous take. For a film about time, this seems like an appropriate choice. The problem is that it is very difficult to care about anyone in the film.
The woman who is pregnant is not the through-character, but you would think that you would care about a young woman desperately in need of an abortion. But there is no attempt to make her sympathetic, in fact, she continually lies throughout the film and digs her own hole deeper and deeper. And there is never an explanation of backstory. Where is the father? Were they unable to get contraception? Why has she chosen abortion?
The main character, her friend, is slightly more sympathetic in that she is at least trying to help, but she makes some terrible choices, and ends up making her own life miserable as a result. I don't have a problem with a movie being a downer. Mr. Lazarescu is perhaps the most depressing film I've ever seen. The difference is that I cared about the characters in that film. In this one, they make annoying choices that create their own problems. It's hard to care about them.