Mary Rose Cook's notebook

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Beyond the Hills


I saw this six months ago when it came out at the cinema. It is almost as spare as Cristian Mungiu’s first film, 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days. But the film-making draws even less attention to itself. 4 Months… was sometimes so naturalistic that it was a little showy: the long supper scene with the static camera, the scene where the camera waits in the bathroom while each of the women go out to the bedroom to have sex with the man who performs the abortion.

Beyond the Hills is wonderful because the central relationship between the two women (second from left and on the right) is a complete mystery. What were they to each other before they were reunited at the convent? Why does the devout woman quietly and tenderly absorb the other’s affection and neither reject her nor let her in? Why does she finally decide to cast her lot in with her friend and leave the convent?

In the still above, the devout nun finally casts in her lot with her friend and her friend smiles and then dies. It makes me cry whenever I think about it.

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