Get SF Weekly Newsletters
Pin It

"Beyond the Hills": Nun Shall Pass 

Wednesday, Mar 13 2013

As girls, Voichita (Cosmina Stratan) and Alina (Cristina Flutur) grew up at the same orphanage. Now they're in their twenties, and after years apart, Alina visits the secluded monastery where Voichita has become a nun. Alina's faith is in her friend's love; Voichita suggests God's instead. They seem determined to rescue each other. Even viewers unfamiliar with the earlier work of Romanian director Cristian Mungiu will detect a tragic bearing here. Mungiu's much lauded previous effort, 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days, was another film about two young women on parallel courses past a point of no return. Beyond the Hills is less urgent, overlong and occasionally repetitive, but no less thoughtful and, in the end, devastating. Voichita's fellow nuns don't take well to Alina's disruptive influence. With approval from their strict and stubborn priest (Valeriu Andriuta), they read her emotional outbursts as signs of possession, and soon enough Voichita sees her friend bound and gagged and chained to a cross. "We're not the ones harming her," one nun says. Mungiu seems to want more than just an allegory of self-incriminating religiosity. (The film derives from actual events, as detailed in two journalistic books by Tatiana Niculescu Bran.) With formal finesse, particularly in the opening and closing shots, he keeps just enough distance to maintain a subjective yet internally conflicted point of view.

About The Author

Jonathan Kiefer

SF Weekly movie critic Jonathan Kiefer is on Twitter: @kieferama and of course @sfweeklyfilm.


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed


  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"