One of the very few Romanian movies to have earned a reputation abroad, 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days has won several international awards (the Golden Palm at Cannes Film Festival, the European Film Awards for Best Film and Best Director, a Goya Awards as well as a Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film). However, its greatest merit is the realism with which the director Cristian Mungiu depicts a dark period of the Romanian history – the 40 years of communist regime. Taking on a subject that touches any woman's life, Mungiu succeeds to create a picture of the society as a whole. To this effect, he portrays archetypal characters, recreates authentic dialogues, and brings into focus sensible yet very important topics.
4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (also known as 432) tells the story of an illegal abortion a young woman living in Ceausescu's Romania goes through. Helped by her college room mate, she manages to contact Mr. Bebe – a prototype of the misogynic Romanian male. As the money they gathered for this unfortunate business is not enough to cover for Mr. Bebe's services, the two students will be faced with a difficult dilemma: pay a dear intimate price or bring to this world an unwanted child.
Without straying from the main plot, Mungiu takes the story as a pretext to criticize the society's corrupted practices and lack of moral principles. For instance, we see campus students buying or trafficking cigarettes and basic cosmetic products like soap and deodorant on the black market. We understand (between the lines) how important it was in communist Romania to have a network of connections in order to be able to do basic daily things like buying food, finding a job or getting an apartment.
The communist regime was and still is a rich source of inspiration for Romanian directors and screenwriters. Quite a few movies shot during the post-revolutionary period tried to depict this era, but only few of them do it as well as 432.
4 months 3 weeks 2 days - movie screenshot
Although rather young, the actresses playing the main roles (Anamaria Marinca, and Laura Vasiliu) do such a great job at it that while watching the movie I often fell under the impression the respective scene was shot with a hidden camera.
432's realism is certainly one of the main factors that contributed to its success. However, it also triggered some controversies and mixed feelings. Women who lived those harsh times under a regime whose political ideology penetrated the most intimate aspects of life find it difficult to see this topic becoming a cinema plot. Nevertheless, 432 remains a remarkable movie and a true history lesson for the young generation.