English Title: Beyond The Hills
Original Title: Dupa dealuri
A KVIFF viewing of Romanian auteur Cristian Mugiu’s latest gripping modern exorcism tale which has garnered two wins in Cannes this year, a BEST SCREENPLAY award and the young pair Cosmina Stratan and Cristina Flutur shared Best Actress honor, which staunchly vindicates Cristian’s consistent excellence not only in his fine-tempo and well-pitched directing bent, but a robust script and ultra-overpowering cast as a whole superlative pack.
Like his breakthrough chef-d’oeuvre 4 MONTHS, 3 WEEKS AND 2 DAYS (2009, a 9/10), the film anew grapples with the contentious subject-matters (this time it is about religious belief) and assigns two young girls in the main roles. The film acquaints its viewers with a secluded locale, an austere monastery (with no electricity and utilizing well water for example) is in stark contrast to the contemporary modernity, then slowly unwinds a tug-of-war in the name of love between God and human, a hapless destiny falls upon 2 girls from the same orphanage, one has become a pious nun so far, yet another is an obstinate non-believer, who chooses God as her love competitor and defies any compromise.
There is an unremitting impulse of captivation throughout the entire film which successfully banishes the awareness of its 150-minutes length. One of Mungiu’s trump card is his virtuoso camera deployment, which has again fixated on a well-organized angle, especially in the indoor scenes, all the inconsequential items have been placed into incessant expositions of still paintings.
A strong-arm tension has been outstandingly established among three main characters (the said two girls plus the priest), although a few well-worn plot twists-and-turns may not survive the hindsight, however the eventual repercussion is nothing if not astonishing.
Much accolades should be granted to the film about its no shade of grey amplification of managing the thorny issue, the clear-minded of eschewing any grandiosity with a telling coda, which can never be less appreciated among cinephiles.