Visually, an atmospheric film, with realistic acting and dialogues, but the film does not seem to be sure about what it really wants to portray. It follows two friends, Otilia and Gabriela, one of whom undergoes an illegal abortion, in the course of one day. The main focus is actually Otilia’s character, and the way in which she develops, and is slowly destroyed, over the course of one day; Anamaria Marinca’s acting is good.
If it is about friendship, it seems to portray an unreal, one-sided, relationship where Gabriela is dumb and unaware, and Otilia has the brains, does the quick thinking, and initiates the sacrificing. If it is about the difficulties and dangers of illegal abortions, it does manage to portray a brutal world based on money and desperation, but without really showing the impact of this on the people involved. If it is about character development, then it fails absolutely as there is no context upon which to base the 24 hours witnessed. If its aim is to portray small-town Romania in 1987, it only gives a glimpse of deserted and unsettling streets.
Maybe I was unable to understand the film due to the radically different geo-political context I have lived through, but I found the unfaltering loyalty of Otilia’s character unjustified, and the ultimate sacrifice she makes precipitated; making it seem almost normal. The film leads me to believe that Romania in 1987 was so dehumanising that women offered their bodies as usual practice and people had any remnant of personality removed by the brutality of their reality. If this is the case, the film achieves its goal, but -not knowing more about the context- it would seem a little rash of me to accept this possibility without wanting to attribute some vestige of humanity to the situation and the Romanian collective portrayed.