Beyond the Hills

Dir: Cristian Mungiu

Stars: Cosmina Stratan, Cristina Flutur, Valeriu Andriuta & Dana Tapalaga

After winning the Golden Palm at Cannes Film Festival for 4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days, Cristian Mungiu followed it up with the impressive Tales from the Golden Age.Romanian cinema seems to be experiencing a golden age itself at the moment, and he is definitely one of the leading lights. He returns to the familiar territory of his Golden Palm winning film in Beyond the Hills; the strong ties of female friendship.

When Alina (Flutur) returns to Romania from a troubled time in Germany to take Voichita (Stratan) back with her, the bonds between the two girls are sorely tested. They grew up together in an orphanage, but whilst Alina wants her friend to join her in Germany, Voichita’s life has taken a different direction. She has taken her orders and joined a small monetary run by an Orthodox Priest (Andiruta) and Mother Superior (Tapalaga), and found peace through the love of God.

Mungiu takes up the social commentary expounded in 4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days depicting bureaucratic lethargy in Romanian society against the autocratic hysteria of the monetary. Based on a true story, Beyond the Hills follows the exorcism of Alina; but don’t expect some kind of low budget horror film. This is more of an offbeat meditation into religion and the bonds that hold us together; filmed in his characteristic social realism style.

Beyond the Hills is beautifully shot and acted; it draws you in and completely immerses you in the story. Don’t let the slow pace fool you; at times it’s as tense and exciting as any thriller. Themes of oppression, poverty, love and dissolution are predominant throughout this darkly offbeat tale. The acting is stunning and the direction is sublime; feeling reminiscent of some of Bergman’s early work.

Beyond the Hills is screening at the Showroom now http://www.showroomworkstation.org.uk/beyondthehills