Formally precise, thematically incisive, and altogether unnerving, 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days is a bravura piece. With this tense dramatization of the events surrounding an illegal Romanian abortion (circa 1987), director Cristian Mungiu shows how the Communist regime’s intrusive, overweening laws created an environment of not only paternalism, sexism, and physical danger but also outright exploitation. (Abortions themselves were no picnic either, as he’s keen to demonstrate.) Talk about body horror — combining social melodrama, character study, and hair-raising thriller, 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days is a riveting ordeal in three parts. You can’t watch, but you don’t dare look away.
The Death of Mr. Lazarescu (2006)
Saddening but riveting, and possessed of a positively wicked wit, The Death of Mr. Lazarescu is executed with the sensitivity of great literature and the panache of bravura filmmaking.