Cristian Mungiu‘s latest movie, Beyond the Hills, had its premier in Romania about two weeks ago. After the great success it had in this year’s Cannes Film Festival, winning the Best Screenplay Award and Best Actress Award (for the two main actresses), I decided that I definitely should go watch it in the cinema.
The movie relates the events that took place in Vaslui County (Romania) in the summer of 2005, when an orphan girl, Irina Cornici, comes to the Monastery in the village of Tanacu to see her schoolmate. While at the monastery, she experiences an extremely violent crisis, is admitted to the Psychiatry Department, then discharged, only to enter another crisis, which led to the monastery priest and nuns’ decision to exorcise the girl, which ultimately results in her death. The movie is also inspired from Tatiana Niculescu Bran‘s book Deadly Confession, which actually relates in detail the story of the two girls and the events from the monastery. (read more here on what happened in 2005).
I didn’t go to see the movie for its story, as I already knew what happened in the monastery in 2005. I actually went to see how Mungiu managed to put everything on screen. I liked everything I saw and the movie managed to keep my interested during the whole 2 and a half hours. The characters are excellently built, the setting is perfect, the facts just derive naturally from one another. I paid attention to all of the details and I have nothing bad to say about this movie. Even the language was good, all characters using the specific dialects from the Eastern part of Romania, the costumes, the way of living, the habits people have, all were so realistic and natural.
I admire that Mungiu showed a part of the Romanian reality in a very decent and moral way, without making use of pornography, nudity or violence, notions so much seen in today’s movies. But in a film like this, so captivating, there is no need to make use of all sorts of small tricks to be successful. It’s a movie that talks about uncomfortable, but actual, subjects of Romania : children living in orphanages, being abused, a ruined medical system, with no interest in the patient’s care, a crazy belief in religion, sometimes even forgetting about the logic in things and the poverty in some of the regions of the country, making people to sometimes take the wrong decisions regarding their lives.
It’s a strong movie, with a hard subject, definitely not for the masses, as some people might find offending the fact that religion and God are incriminated, but it’s an excellent movie, built with morality and common sense.
Cristian Mungiu is one of the best Romanian contemporary movie directors, known also for 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, winning 33 awards, including the Palme d’Or at Cannes in 2007.