(2007; 4 Luni, 3 Saptamāni si 2 Zile, Romanian) Romania in 1987, during the last years of Ceausescu's cruel Communist rule, retaining the Roman Catholic Church's strictures, was a Godforsaken country. College student Otilia Mihartescu (Anamaria Marinca) helps her dormitory roommate Gabita Dragut (Laura Vasiliu) get an abortion.
This frank, unflinching film with its echoing, empty spaces and silences by director/writer/co-producer Cristian Mungiu is from his series Tales from the Golden Age; it creates tension by setting up many false expectations for what might happen without resorting to melodrama. The point is that this isn't Hollywood with its cathartic tragedies, that there's no escaping the banality of reality.
On the day previously appointed, Otilia goes to the hotel for the room, only to be told there is no record of a reservation; all rooms have been booked. Though Mr Bebe (Vlad Ivanov) had instructed Gabita to meet him personally, Otilia goes in her stead when her friend says she feels sick and not up to the rendezvous.
Already upset that the young woman seeking termination of her pregnancy failed to meet him, Mr Bebe in the hotel room expresses his displeasure that they have a room in a hotel other than one he'd specified, since here he has had to leave his identification at the reception desk. (He forgets to retrieve it.) Further, he discovers that Gabita is closer to four months pregnant than the two she'd told him over the phone.
Getting caught performing an illegal abortion at this late stage would be treated as murder with as much as a ten-year prison sentence. He instructs Gabita that once he inserts the probe, a procedure which he will not repeat, she "must not move under any circumstances" until the fetus is expelled; pain and bleeding are to be expected; infection is always a possibility; she may have to wait, lying on the bed with plastic beneath her to avoid staining the mattress, two or three days for the result.
In addition to accepting 2800 lei, he brutally extracts additional payment from Otilia; afterward she removes a knife from his briefcase. After Mr Bebe departs, saying they are to call him alone if they need anything, the girls exchange regrets and recriminations.
Having earlier reluctantly promised her boyfriend Adi that she would attend his mother's birthday celebration, Otilia leaves Gabita alone in the room; Ari complains when she arrives that she is late and has forgotten to bring flowers. Among the small assembly of guests are two physicians.
In Adi's room Otilia reveals where she has been and asks him what he would do if she were pregnant. Opposed to abortion because it's dangerous, he says he would marry her. When she calls the hotel room to check on Gabita, no one answers.
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