Dupa dealuri [Beyond the Hills] (2012)

Dupa dealuri
Director: Cristian Mungiu
Writer: Cristian Mungiu
Based on: Tatiana Niculescu Bran‘s books
Cast: Cosmina Stratan, Cristina Flutur, Valeriu Andriuta, Dana Tapalaga
Part of: Viennale

Voichita (Cosmina Stratan) and Alina (Cristina Flutur) grew up in the same orphanage, were best friends and even lovers. But then Alina left for Germany and Voichita went to live in a very orthodox convent in Romania. But now Alina has come back and would like to take Voichita to Germany with her. Voichita isn’t sold on the idea and instead would like Alina to stay with her at the convent. Alina tries, but instead of finding refuge, she ends up having a psychotic break. And then pretty much everything goes south as the convent tries to help in their own way.

Dupa dealuri is a really good movie. If only it had been about half an hour shorter than it was, it would have been perfect. But it’s still fantastic.

The movie is based on a true story that actually happened in Romania, which is a really scary thought. The way the convent is run, the way the doctors react to Alina’s problem seems more like something out of the 16th rather than the 21st century. That this happened (at least more or less like that) not only not that long ago, but right here in Europe, is something that gives me goosebumps.

In any case, it is an interesting, tragic story that is told in a relatively neutral fashion without letting anybody off the hook. And if you already have a rather anti-church-y stance, like I do, it will confirm this position a whole damn lot. (Science FTW!)

Cristian Mungiu sets the whole story wonderfully in scene and has found the ideal cinematographer for it in Oleg Mutu. It looks great, in all its greyish darkness and the camera is always just in the right position. Plus, they really have an excellent cast to work with – that’s always important.

The only thing I can critisize is that it’s just a little too detailed. At two and a half hours, the runtime isn’t short and I think that the film would have benefited from a little shortening. Two hours should have been enough. But even at this length, I can definitely recommend it.

Summarising: if you can find it, give it a try.


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