Beyond the Hills
Cristian Mungiu established himself with the Palme D’Or-winning 4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days, a gritty tale of illegal abortion and rape in Communist Romania. Beyond the Hills follows in the same stylistic and thematic vein with long, winding takes observing the denigration of two women, both of whom have grown up in care and now find themselves residing in a strict Orthodox convent.
Alina has returned from a waiting job in Germany to persuade her childhood companion and former lover, Voichiţa, to leave Romania. A stunning opening set piece sees the couple reunited as devout Voichiţa struggles against a tide of people to meet skeptic Alina. After moving into her friend’s monastic abode, the disbeliever begins to suffer from violent seizures, believed to be possession by evil spirits.
An uncanny hybrid - appearing to reference The Exorcist at one point - Mungiu’s work is a complex mix of realism and symbolism that tugs on both intellect and emotion. A stunning addition to the recent wave of Romanian cinema. [Helen Wright]