Sunday, October 28, 2012

Beyond the Hills (2012)

Beyond the Hills
Directed by Christian Mungiu
Starring: Cosmina Stratan, Cristina Flutur, Valeriu Andriuta, Dana Tapalaga
Grade: C [48] 

While Mungiu’s “4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days” exposed backstreet abortion as a harrowing, exploitative ordeal, it at least brought to light the stigma of social issues with a powerful realism relatively unseen in Romanian cinema of the time. Beautifully shot and thoroughly engrossing in its first half, this story of nuns in rural Romania is provocative in the way that his previous films have been, but in dealing with the trials and tribulations within fundamentalist Christianity he makes fewer observations about society than he does insinuations, and cynically muddies religion in brazen, simple terms. Even as an Atheist it’s difficult to condone the contemptuous techniques at play here, burying a love story underneath what is essentially “The Passion of Joan of Arc,” played out in terribly repetitive terms over two-and-a-half gruelling hours. His social commentary only really becomes apparent in the final scenes of the film, capped by a final shot which serves to heighten the distaste. This is grubby business.

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