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Faith is the divide in Cristian Mungiu's Beyond the Hills

The latest from the Romanian New Wave examines the patriarchy of a Russian orthodox convent



Raised in a German orphanage, Voichita has found peace as a novice in a Romanian convent, but her austere life is roiled by a visit from her unstable friend Alina, who has graduated from the same orphanage to a series of foster homes. In many ways this long, layered drama from writer-director Cristian Mungiu seems like a companion piece to his harrowing abortion story 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (2007); both movies trace the uneasy relationship between a survivor and her weak, dependent pal as they try to navigate a world of patriarchal oppression. Here that oppression is embodied by the Russian Orthodox priest who threatens to expel Voichita for her friend's volatile behavior, yet Mungiu complicates this overt critique of religion by hinting that both Voichita's devotion to God and Alina's clinging attachment to Voichita are driven by childhood sexual abuse. In Romanian with subtitles.

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