Mama at the Movies: 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days

This month’s movie is no feel-good date night escape, but it is one of most moving and intelligent films I’ve seen in ages. Here’s an excerpt from my new column:

Washing my hands in the theater bathroom after watching the new film 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (Cristian Mungiu, 2007), I noticed I have a lot of gray hair. Maybe I should be grateful that the dim lighting in my house has been keeping this revelation from me. Somehow without my noticing, the blonde that has always lightened the brown has gone several shades lighter. The movie made me realize another subtle way that I’ve aged: it used to be, I’d watch a movie like this, about two women in their twenties, and identify with them. Now I wonder what I’d do if I were their mom.

4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days is set in Romania, 1987, and follows a pair of friends over the course of a single day. It opens in their dorm room as they’re preparing for a trip; they don’t seem happy about it, but it’s easy at first to chalk their mood up to their living conditions: the dingy and crowded room; the talk of using Palmolive for shampoo; the hunt for cigarettes in black market shops operated out of other dorm rooms, where the girls can buy half-packets of birth control pills and nail polish, too. Gabriela frets about whether to bring her notes so that she can study while they’re away; Otilia tells her brusquely that there’ll be no time. Gabriela complains of a toothache, moans that her stomach feels weird; Otilia, tense and losing patience with her friend’s fretful inactivity, snaps at her. She goes over the plan for Gabriela: the money, the possibility of bribes, the meeting place, and it gradually becomes clear that the pair isn’t going on vacation, but arranging an abortion for Gabriela.

Click on over to Literary Mama to read the rest.

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