[Movie] Beyond the Hills (2012)

  • Original Title: După dealuri
  • Directed by: Cristian Mungiu
  • Cast: Cosmina Stratan, Cristina Flutur

The man who leaves isn’t the same when he returns.

God gives us what we need, not what we want.

But I need you!

from the movie

The film is about the friendship, love, and conflict between two young women – Voichita and Alina in a Romanian Orthodox convent environment. They were friends and lovers in an orphanage. Voichita found refuge at a convent, and Anita wants to leave for Germany together with Voichita.

After growing up in an orphanage, two girls seek a shield or a guard to keep them safe and find some meaning in life. Voichita chose the monastery, and Alina chose Voichita. Their decisions seem quite different, but their desperate psychological attachment is the same. Obsession is the engine to move them forward. 

The movie is in the middle of the Romanian New wave, which unfolds the way of modern Romanian lives – transition to democracy and capitalism – after the fall of communism. Romanian New wave films are realistic and often minimalistic with black humor. “The Death of Mr. Lăzărescu” by Cristi Puiu is a good example. 

The dominant theme is how religion plays a role in the psychological collapse of individuals. Devotion to God and the communal environment can be the tool to seek refuge from the harsh reality. Belief is not an empty thought. Ideas become real and interact with people. For the nuns in the convent, everything might make sense from the inside when they only share their thoughts and ways of life. 

But any turbulence from outside can crack this fragile balance.

It is very interesting to see how the plot evolves. There are no villains but no angels at the same time. There are only human beings. Everyone – a priest, nuns, and health care workers – seems to agree that Alina needs help and even tries to help her. But there is a fundamental gap between good intention and what is really needed. I think it is how human beings form a society to live together.

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