Monday, October 8, 2012

Beyond the Hills

Though visually stunning, Beyond the Hills, the new film by Romanian filmmaker Cristian Mungiu, whose previous film 4 Weeks, 3 Months and 2 Days I thoroughly enjoyed, left me as cold as the Moldova hills where the story takes place.

Young Alina (Cristina Flutur), who has been living in Germany, returns to Romania to visit her childhood friend and, likely, lover Voichita (Cosmina Stratan) in an effort to bring her back to Alina’s new life.  Unfortunately, Voichita is now living as a nun in a religious compound headed by a fundamentalist Orthodox priest known as Papa (Valeriu Andriuta) and is reluctant to leave a life where she does not have to think, only obey.

It’s a story about the conflict between emerging individuality in a society still competing with the dogmatic remnants of Communism, though here, ironically, religion stands in for the old economic system showing any form of fundamentalism can be an “opiate of the masses.”

 Flutur and Stratan shared the Best Actress prize in Cannes and both these newcomers were wonderful. 

Oleg Mutu’s cinematography was also wonderful in its starkness.

What left me cold was director Mungiu’s style of shooting.  He likes to show the uninteresting part of a scene/shot because not all of life is interesting.  I, however, would rather sit through 2 hours of this story and do without the extra half hour of uninteresting footage.

Moreover, there seems to be an epidemic of well-acted, well-photographed films like this, The Master and The Paperboy that are about stupid/cultist people about whom I have little or no interest.

I give Beyond the Hills a 2+ out of 5.

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