This year's Palme D'Or winner.
Minor spoilers:The film follows the story of Otilia (Anamaria Marinca) and Gabita (Laura Vasiliu), two university friends in Bucharest, Romania. The film is set in 1987, one of the last years of the Ceausescu regime. When Gabita falls pregnant, the two girls arrange a meeting with Mr. Bebe (Vlad Ivanov) in a cheap hotel, where he is to perform an illegal abortion.
A tremendous film. It seems very rigid at first, faithfully following the characters with little in the way of cuts, which for a short while, took me out of the film and made me pay way too much attention on the form of the film. However, as the despair of the situation at hand started to unfold, the film drew me in like few others have managed to this year. I must applaud Mungiu for his restraint, as I've rarely seen minimalism in work this well. There's not a single moment in the film where he allows the form of the film to take over the story and the characters.
I generally dislike describing acting as good (calling someone a bad actor is much easier), but very few words describe the cast as well. Everyone in this is just really, really good. Anamaria Marinca especially was a revelation, as she basically carries the entire film. She's in just about every single shot and one finds it really difficult to look away from her. There's a lengthy scene set at a dinner table, where amongst the drunken ramblings of her fiance's relatives, she finds herself totally isolated. She doesn't have to say anything, but the viewer understands perfectly what she's going thru. She's surrounded by people, but they don't even seem to exist in the same universe or reality as she does.
One must also praise the performance of Vlad Ivanov, who in Mr.Bebe creates a person who's terrifying in his contradictions and simultaneously captivating in the way he wears his soft spoken menace on his sleeve. Ivanov never goes too far with the character, firmly grounding him in reality, which makes him all the more terrifying as the price of his services is revealed almost nonchalantly. He's a complex character who clearly does not see himself as evil, but merely one who sees it ok to benefit from his position.
I feel myself at a loss of words adequately praising the film, but hopefully someone here will do a better job at it. Highly recommended.