Cristian Mungiu follows his Palme d’Or-winning masterpiece with “Beyond the Hills”.
The favourite son of Romania’s New Wave follows up his jarring, Palme d’Or-winning masterpiece 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, with another film about two quietly defiant young women. Cristina Fluter and Cosmina Stratan play Alina and Voichita, two orphan friends with a troubled past. There are hints that abuse and paedophilia plagued the girls’ orphanage but still, they survived. They also fell in love. We pick up with Alina returning home from a spell in Germany to find that Voichita has taken solace in the local Orthodox convent. Alina is distraught. She wants nothing more than for Voichita to join her abroad and decides to fight the priest for her affections, but the emotional extremes of her suffering are interpreted as satanic possession.
The leading ladies shared the acting plaudits at Cannes for two greatly complimentary performances with Stratan remaining distant and tender while Fluter writhes with fury and passion. Shot in the grey autumnal light, there’s a fitting coldness here too. Like 4 Months…, this is a film devoid of any sentimentality: there’s just no room for such indulgence. With all of this Beyond the Hills should feel like horror. Amazingly, it looks like real life. Romanian New Wave doesn’t tell us how to feel. It simply tells it as it is.
Beyond the Hills | Directed by Cristian Mungiu (Romania 2012) with Cristina Fluter and Cosmina Stratan. Starts November 14