Wednesday, April 24, 2013

90% Beyond The Hills

All Critics (77) | Top Critics (30) | Fresh (69) | Rotten (8)

The final shot, with windshield wipers struggling to clean away a torrent of muddy water, suggests that no human agency is great enough to handle this world's misery.

"Beyond the Hills" seethes with astonishment and rage at a broken society marooned between the 21st century and the 16th.

It is a haunting movie, dealing with superstitions, possession, even exorcism, one in which Mungiu poses no easy answers, because there are none to be found.

If you long for the bleak intelligence of an Ingmar Bergman film, where humankind is deeply flawed and God is indifferently silent and the landscape is cloaked in perpetual winter, then Beyond the Hills promises to be your cup of despair.

There are no easy villains or heroes in this sad and slow but forcefully told tale, which exhibits the same humanity Mungiu brought to 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, his abortion drama that won the 2007 Palme d'Or.

A film that asks its viewer to consider the nature of good and evil, love and trust - and trust that turns into something like blind faith.

(Writer-director Christian) Mungiu balances his film's more disturbing content with peaceful shots of the idyllic, surrounding countryside and of intimacy between the two women while slowly building to an inevitable conclusion.

When the ill and unstable Alina returns to the monastery, just so she can be with her beloved, Beyond the Hills becomes a species of those exorcism movies that audiences gorge on, only done with a realism and ambiguity usually missing from the genre.

What makes this movie unique is that it holds literally everyone in the film accountable for the unfortunate goings on.

It's an exorcism movie for everyone who thought, after Mungiu's gruelling abortion buddy-movie 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, that this guy should do an exorcism movie

It's an enigmatic and austere film from a region where political, sexual and religious repression are as stifling as the sooty air.

Mungui's rigorous approach to filmmaking isn't a ton of fun to watch, but his ideas stick with you.

It delivers an emotional punch, in what its director has called a story about the sin of indifference.

Such is the rigorous and high-minded nature of Romanian cinema that even a real-life exorcism story can inspire something loftier than a horror movie.

Heartbreak at a Romanian convent

...Cristian Mungiu has taken a real life consider deeply human philosophies such as freedom vs. discipline, love vs. security, the choices facing those without financial recourse and the hypocrisies of organized religions.

I found it riveting to watch and fascinating to think about afterwards.

An undeniably tough watch.

Stark, deadpan, and darkly dry.

With this viscerally involving drama, acclaimed Romanian filmmaker Mungiu (4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days) tells another strikingly original story of women caught between old and new world beliefs.

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