Thursday, March 21, 2013

beyond the hills

Having read the Watershed’s blurb in advance, I realised that this was not exactly going to be a happy, feel-good film.
Indeed it wasn’t.
Directed by Cristian Mungiu, this drama is centred on the friendship between two women who grew up together in a Romanian orphanage. One of them (Voichita) became an orthodox nun and the other (Alina) left to make a life for herself in Germany; Alina returns to “rescue” her friend (with whom she enjoyed a youthful relationship). But Voichita’s new love is God and she’ll have none of it. Alina ends up living (albeit on a short-term basis) in the monastery and is subjected to a bizarre exorcism by the unyielding priest.
It’s an eerie, stark, unrelenting tale (actually based on a true story from 2005). On the one hand it paints a picture of a failing Romanian Orthodox Church (and perhaps the collapse of religion itself?)… but, on the other, it underlines the bureaucratic shortcomings/complicity/attitude of the country’s health service (eg. for releasing a disturbed young woman into the nuns’ care).
It’s a long, somewhat depressing, but nevertheless impressive and powerful film… if only the bloke in front of me could have managed to stay awake to see it!

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