The extraordinary Romanian film 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, more comfortably known as "that abortion movie that won the 2007 Palme d'Or," sheds its secrets slowly. It's a high-end realist drama that quickens skillfully into a thriller. Though the frightening late-term abortion at its center hints at larger sins in the last days of Nicolae Ceausescu's iron-fisted regime, it's no metaphor. Rather, it's a sordid, visceral transaction conducted in the next best thing to a back alley. Childlike and passive, Gabita (Laura Vasiliu) is the college girl most likely to get herself knocked up, ignore her swelling belly, then flap her hands and wait for someone to tell her what to do. That would be BFF Otilia (Anamaria Marinca), a resourceful fixer who calmly books one seedy hotel when she can't afford the bribe for another, then meets up with the illegal abortionist. In one of several touches of writer-director Cristian Mungiu's black comedy, the abortionist is named Mr. Bebe, and he's a sinister manipulator who, like any good black marketeer, knows how to exact payment in kind. Trapped in frame by the steady gaze of cinematographer Oleg Mutu's camera, both girls will end up his victims, but in the movie's bleakest moments, it's the plucky one 4 Months is Otilia's movie, not Gabita's who pays the higher price.
Tue., May 20, 7 & 9:25 p.m.; Wed., May 21, 2, 7 & 9:25 p.m.; Thu., May 22, 7 & 9:25 p.m., 2008