Monday, July 6, 2009
Movie Review - 4 weeks, 3 months, 2 days
During the oppressive communist regime of Nicolae Ceausescu in Romania, college student Otilia attempts to help her friend, Gabita, obtain an illegal abortion. As she takes greater and greater risks, Otilia learns that the situation is not exactly as it seems, and Gabita has been lying about almost everything from the very start.
There is some drama surrounding this movie, as proponents on both sides of the issue debate whether this is a pro-choice or pro-life film. Honestly, I don't think that issue is really at the heart of what this movie is about. I think it is about the lengths one person will to go help a friend, and if those lengths are justified when they involve compromising yourself. The relationship between Otilia and Gabita was much more central to the story than the actual act of the abortion, and while that was certainly dark and disturbing, it wasn't the true horror of the film.
The true horror was the oppressive society presented by the filmmaker, and presented in so many little ways - the suspicion everyone held each other in, the strict rules to simply check into a hotel room, the way each person seemed to be in fear that at any moment they could be condemned for some offense, real or imagined. The background of fear was palpable, and it made the overarching storyline that much more effective.
Of course, the revelations that Gabita had lied, over and over again, discovered as Otilia makes sacrifice after sacrifice for her friend, are the heart of the movie. Otilia tries to hard to make everything alright, and seems to be thwarted at every turn by Gabita's deceptions. It was shocking to see the lengths Otilia would go to for this fairly unlikable character, and it was difficult to understand why she would allow herself to do that.
The movie ends very abruptly, leaving me wondering what exactly I had just seen. This was an interesting, but for me, unsatisfying movie, that I don't think I can recommend.