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Laramie Movie Scope:
4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days

There's no escaping the banality of reality

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by Patrick Ivers, Film Critic
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(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.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in video and/or DVD format, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2009 Patrick Ivers. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Patrick Ivers can be reached via e-mail at nora's email address at juno. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)