BEYOND THE HILLS, Cristian Mungiu’s new film, is in some ways the quintessential expression of the Romanian New Wave that broke at the 2005 Cannes Film Festival with the international premiere of Cristi Puiu’s Death of Mr. Lazarescu and reached its high-water mark two years later with Mungiu’s Palm d’Or–winning 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days.
Like 4 Months, Beyond the Hills dramatizes the predicament of two young women living under patriarchal law, in a manner that is part suspense thriller, part ordeal, and part procedural. (The procedures are weirdly analogous: an abortion in 4 Months, an exorcism in Beyond the Hills.) Like Puiu’s Lazarescu and his radical follow-up, Aurora (2010), Beyond the Hills draws on the Dardenne brothers’ reinvention of Neorealism (or, alternately, their invention of vérité Bresson) and is a technical tour de force, predicated on an ensemble cast acting
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