This is a film about friendship and the lengths taken to help a friend in need. Cristain Mungiu tells a realistic and harrowing tale of Gabita’s unwanted pregnancy and her friend Otilia’s emotional and physical odyssey in helping her obtain an illegal abortion. This is a grim practical story devoid of judgment or excuses: it is concerned only with the character’s predicament and their response to the crisis.
Mungiu chooses to tell the story in a 24-hour time frame from Otilia’s subjective perspective so we aren’t allowed into Gabita’s private world and thoughts. This heightens the anxiety as she takes on the responsibility from the frightened and seemingly dimwitted Gabita, who remains frustratingly anonymous to the viewer. Otilia carries the burden for her friend and roommate and basically does everything for her: renting the hotel room, meeting the “doctor”, and negotiating the final price. But the one final act is Gabita’s alone and we are not allowed access to the expungement, only Otilia’s anxiety as she leaves her friend alone and tries to make sense of her own volatile relationship with her boyfriend. When she returns and the fetus is a bloody lump on the bathroom floor, Otilia even carries the corpse through the bleak dark night and empties it down a garbage chute. The film ends abruptly with the two friends having dinner and vowing to never speak of this act again. This is a powerful film set during the repressive Communist era of Romania…but could be Anyplace, USA.
Final Grade: (A)