In Communist-era Romania, student Găbița (Laura Vasiliu) has fallen pregnant and needs an illegal abortion. She enlists the help of her roommate Otilia (Anamaria Marinca) to find a doctor willing to carry out the procedure.
While Communist Eastern Europe wasn’t exactly known for being a utopia of joy and prosperity, 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days paints a particularly bleak picture, without so much a Chuck Norris film to alleviate the situation. Against the backdrop of scruffy grey buildings, aged cars, rickety public transport and dingy hotels are two people in an utterly desperate situation, stuck between the social impossibility of having a baby out of wedlock and the gruesome process of having an illegal termination, subject to the demands of the man willing to carry out the procedure (Vlad Ivanov).
What results is a close examination of the worst day in two people’s lives, as they face unhelpful hotel receptionists, unsympathetic boyfriends and the cruel demands of a terminator who preys on desperate young women. It’s shot in a highly naturalistic way, capturing the restrained performances of the young women.
They largely avoid emotional outbursts, perhaps used to hiding their true feelings from living under a repressive government, but their inner turmoil and trauma is woven into the fabric of the film. The camera remains static on their reactions, particularly Marinca as the best friend, coping remarkably well with the situation, including her naive roommate’s unhelpful actions. What results is a brutal, honest and shockingly real piece of cinema about two people in an utterly desperate situation.