Wednesday, 21 November 2012
Beyond the Hills 
The searing religious drama Beyond the Hills is Cristian Mungiu’s follow-up to his astounding last feature 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days. The most noteworthy aspect of the film was that, Mungiu made a scathing indictment on the church without any biases or prejudices. His intent lay in tackling the fundamentalisms, superstitions, rigid dogmas and the sense of utter denial prevalent in organized religion, without ever turning those practicing and preaching religion into mere caricatures. The story, based on an actual event, began with Voichita (Cosmina Stratan), a demure and compliant nun in a monastery, being visited by the rebellious and sharp-tongued Alina (Cristina Flutur), an intimate friend from their days in the orphanage. Alina wants Voichita to leave with her to Germany, but that turns out to be an exceedingly difficult task since she has embraced god unequivocally. Meanwhile, the church’s Father, an upright disciplinarian with a strong sense of authority and rigid orthodoxy, and its other members, start reacting to her “vulgar” presence, leading the film to its tragic climax. Tts sharp critique on organized Christianity apart, the film also addressed the topic of faith vis-à-vis science, and raised the issue of abuse in orphanages. The scene, shot in a single take, where Voichita is questioned by a police officer upon her request for visa, was a powerful moment, as was the satirical sequence where Alina is weighed against 464 listed sins. The acting was good throughout, but Cosmina stood out for her marvelously layered performance, in this remarkably level-headed (though not flawless) film shot in leisurely long takes and completely bereft of any background score.
p.s. Watched this as part of 2012 Kolkata International Film Festival (KFF)
Director: Cristian Mungiu
Genre: Drama/Religious Drama