Beyond the Hills (2012) by Cristian Mungiu
Wild Bunch via MUBI:
In an isolated Orthodox convent in Romania, Alina has just been reunited with Voichita after spending several years in Germany. The two young women have supported and loved each other since meeting as children in an orphanage.
Alina wants Voichita to leave and return with her to Germany, but Voichita has found refuge in faith and a family in the nuns and their priest, and refuses. Alina cannot understand her friend’s choice. In her attempt to win back Voichita’s affection, she challenges the priest. She is taken to hospital and the people of the monastery start to suspect that she is possessed.
Stark, chilling & tragic.
Having read up about the film beforehand, I was ready to hate the monastery’s guts… but not at all, they’re just a bunch of misguided orthodox Christians who are trying to handle a bad situation the best they can (…well, rather badly, to say the least).
Peter Bradshaw of the Guardian makes an excellent point in his review of the film (HERE):
What seems important a second time is not the authoritarianism and group hysteria of the monastery, but rather the hospital which, through pure bureaucratic weari-ness or inter-institutional complicity, releases a disturbed young woman into the nuns’ care. Bewildered, befuddled Romanian society in general is what is culpable: a directionless, hopeless world.
It’s indeed Romania’s “bureaucratic weariness” that killed Alina. There’s a scene at the end of the film that sums it all up: when Alina is taken back to the hospital, a blasée, cynical and dismissive doctor starts throwing blame all over the place; that scene plays with a genuinely comedic tone (I actually laughed out loud throughout) and yet it’s deeply distressing and depressing (especially because the whole farcical sequence was unfolding while a distraught Voichita was sobbing in background).
[Curzon on Demand]