4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days has officially risen to #1 on my list of the most disturbing films I’ve ever seen (and bumping Audition to #2 is not easy). Set in Romania during 1987, 4 Months tells the story of a young woman trying to have an illegal abortion. Her friend, Otilia goes to tremendous lengths to help her, and the two undergo a troubling and traumatizing journey over the course of a day.
This is not an enjoyable film by any means. It is pure torture to watch, and you feel a constant pang of guilt, supplemented by periods of disgust and anger. The characters are undoubtedly complex, although we know so little about them that the actions of one day come to define them. This is likely how they feel, too.
While not enjoyable, it is uniquely brilliant. Director Cristian Mungiu lets a static camera sit in on long periods of dialogue where nothing much happens, enhancing the voyeuristic feel, and creating an anxious frustration in the already unsettled audience.
If you don’t mind the few days following the film being tainted with overwhelming discomfort and despair, 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days should top your rental list this week.