The maker of 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days dexterously fashions another complex drama drawn from a BBC reporter's book set in a remote Moldavian Orthodox monastery where a 2005 ritual goes awry.
In Cristian Mungiu's Beyond The Hills (long and painstaking to disturbing, emotionally wrenching effect - fully subtitled) there is a graceful calibration of loss and love through the religious and earthly passions that takes a psychological toll.
The devastating, quite involving rendition in a way mirrors his earlier tale of friendship wrapped around illegal abortion. Friends since childhood in an orphanage are Alina (Cristina Flutur) and Voichita (Cosmina Stratan). The former who has been living in Germany wants to get the other to come back with her. But, Voichita has started a new life at the New Hill Orthodox in Romania and is happy living with a group of nuns and Papa (Valeriu Andriuta), a priest.
What is quite provocative comes from the interpretative quality of the Alina/Voichita backstory, especially when it comes to the aspect of "divine intervention" opposite mundane desire. A jittery, defiant Alina is suspect of having a demonic quality when standing up to Papa that moves Beyond The Hills into gnarly simmering with much confusion in ways that defy but still lend to a shocking final act. This reunion has brought on strife and doubt from radiance and eagerness by two individuals filled with much goodness.
The filmmaking makes the most of its gelid setting in wintertime, persuasive in its rugged, austere on-locational shoot. It's the performances of Flutur and Stratan that really connect to the intelligence around all the burdens addressed here. A fierce, deliberate wallowing through the profane, the obsession and love is something exorcised in challenging, difficult ways to achieve a unique kind of truthful, divine grace.
|Beyond the Hills||B+||B+|