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Beyond the Hills

December 15, 2013

Beyond the Hills (2012)
Director: Cristian Mungiu
Actors: Cosmina Stratan, Cristina Flutur, Valeriu Andriuta

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Synopsis: Voichita (Cosmina Stratan) and Alina (Cristina Flutur) are two friends meeting up in rural Romania after Alina has returned from a spell working in Germany. Voichita takes Alina to the convent where she is now a nun, and Alina subsequently struggles against the austere dogma of her new environment and her repressed longing for Voichita.

Review: Put together with the same uncanny sensory and de facto real-time effect of Cristian Mungiu’s earlier film 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 DaysBeyond the Hills is another bravura exercise in painstaking, atmospheric filmmaking. In fact, it’s almost like a silent movie with its thematic simplicity and painterly classicism.

To be completely honest, I preferred more the impressionistic, less pre-determined corners of the film – the spectacularly rendered scenery, the soft, docile voices of the nuns, and the evocative faces of Cosmina Stratan and Cristina Flutur in the two key roles. However, the film’s exorcism centrepiece and quiet, attritional critique of dogma and institutionalism was quite obvious and unrevelatory, and almost bordered on von Trier-style provocativeness in the scene where Alina is essentially pinned to a makeshift cross. (December 2013)

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