4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days is a film which reinforces the notion that in order to be heard, whisper. The film whispers through 113 minutes, allowing the audience to feel the internal struggles of the characters on their own without being steered a particular direction by the presence of ominous music or fancy camerawork. The camera never prods, but rather incorporates unhurried long takes throughout, acting as a silent, omniscient observer. In 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days we are truly experiencing a day in the life; the authenticity of the setting and situations are crushingly realistic on their own.
The film is set in totalitarian Romania in 1987 and follows the lives of two University roommates, Otilia (Anamaria Marinca) and Gabina (Laura Vasiliu). The film opens by focusing on two goldfish idly swimming around a glass fish tank. The camera then invites the audience into the story by following Otilia unassumingly around her dormitory. Otilia takes her time wandering down the hall in and out of dorm rooms and one can be struck by the realistic images of an ordinary University day. After a few moments it becomes clear that Gabina is packing for a journey of some kind and Otilia is accompanying her. Their seemingly lackadaisical mannerisms lure the audience somewhat to safety but an underlying sense of unease keeps the slow pace intriguing. There is no question that this plot is headed somewhere. The camera silently trails Otilia as she enters various hotels looking for a vacant room. With the introduction of the foreboding Dr. Bebe, the situation becomes clear: Otilia is helping Gabina take the steps to terminate an unwanted pregnancy.
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