Part of what makes Romanian director Cristian Mungiu’s Four Months, Three Weeks and Two Days so fascinating is its rambling, almost improvisational style. Viewers have to pick up bits of information about the plot and characters along the way.
The film, which won the Palme d’Or at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival (while being ignored by the Academy Awards), starts with a mesmerizing sequence of what appears to be a typical morning in a women’s dormitory at a working-class technical school. The girls are scurrying around, washing up, getting dressed and searching for lost items. At first, we’re not sure if we’re in a dorm or a prison. Not only are the surroundings stripped down and stark (like the movie itself), but a massive amount of low-end bartering is taking place, with chocolates and cigarettes (especially the highly valuable Kents) being traded for soap and shampoo.