Beyond The Hills

2013

Beyond The Hills (2013)

TOMATOMETER

Critic Consensus: Although some viewers may mistake its deliberate pace for passionless filmmaking, Beyond the Hills offers an intelligent, powerfully acted examination of the tension between secular life and religious faith.

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Movie Info

In an isolated Orthodox convent in Romania, Alina has just been reunited with Voichita after spending several years in Germany. The two young women have supported and loved each other since meeting as children in an orphanage. Alina wants Voichita to leave and return with her to Germany, but Voichita has found refuge in faith and a family in the nuns and their priest, and refuses. Alina cannot understand her friend's choice. In her attempt to win back Voichita's affection, she challenges the priest. She is taken to hospital and the people of the monastery start to suspect that she is possessed. When the doctors send her back, Alina is included in the monastic routine in the hope that she will find peace. But her condition worsens and they finally have to tie her to a wooden plank to prevent her from hurting herself. After ruling out all other options, the priest and nuns decide to read her prayers to deliver those possessed by the Evil One. They perform an exorcism, but the result is not what they had hoped, and Voichita begins to doubt the religious choice she has made. She decides to free Alina - but her decision comes too late. Inspired by the non-fiction novels of Tatiana Niculescu Bran.

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Cast

Valeriu Andriuta
as The Priest
Catalina Harabagiu
as Nun Antonia
Gina Tandura
as Nun Iustina
Vica Agache
as Sister Elisabeta
Dana Tapalaga
as Mother Superior
Nora Covali
as Nun Pahomia
Dionisie Vitcu
as Mr. Valerica
Liliana Mocanu
as Mother Elena
Doru Ana
as Father Nusu
Costache Babii
as Doctor Solovastru
Luminita Gheorghiu
as Schoolteacher
Alina Berzunteanu
as Doctor Radu
Teo Corban
as Police Inspector
Calin Chirila
as Policeman
Tania Popa
as Female Parishioner
Radu Zetu
as Lieutenant
Ion Sapdaru
as Captain
Diana Ignat
as Secretary
Liana Petrescu
as Sister Arcadia
Alexandra Agavriloaiei
as Sister Eudoxia
Alexandra Apetrei
as Sister Tatiana
Noemi Gunea
as Sister Lavrentia
Katia Pascariu
as Nun Sevastiana
Mara Carutasu
as Sister Anastasia
Cerasela Iosifescu
as Doctor D.L.
Ada Barleanu
as Nurse Gina
Mariana Liurca
as Nurse Sandra
Gheorghe Ifrim
as Ambulance Assistant
Adrian Ancuta
as Man in the Car
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Critic Reviews for Beyond The Hills

All Critics (100) | Top Critics (35)

The final shot, with windshield wipers struggling to clean away a torrent of muddy water, suggests that no human agency is great enough to handle this world's misery.

Apr 4, 2013 | Full Review…

"Beyond the Hills" seethes with astonishment and rage at a broken society marooned between the 21st century and the 16th.

Apr 4, 2013 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…
Boston Globe
Top Critic

It is a haunting movie, dealing with superstitions, possession, even exorcism, one in which Mungiu poses no easy answers, because there are none to be found.

Apr 4, 2013 | Rating: 4.5/5 | Full Review…

It's an enigmatic and austere film from a region where political, sexual and religious repression are as stifling as the sooty air.

Apr 4, 2013 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

If you long for the bleak intelligence of an Ingmar Bergman film, where humankind is deeply flawed and God is indifferently silent and the landscape is cloaked in perpetual winter, then Beyond the Hills promises to be your cup of despair.

Mar 29, 2013 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

There are no easy villains or heroes in this sad and slow but forcefully told tale, which exhibits the same humanity Mungiu brought to 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, his abortion drama that won the 2007 Palme d'Or.

Mar 28, 2013 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Beyond The Hills

½

'Beyond the Hills'. Incited way too much frustration with its whiny protagonist that overshadowed anything it was saying about love.

c0up  
c0up  

Super Reviewer

½

The film meticulously, intelligently lays out all of the facts, relationships, and points of view of this strange modern horror story very democratically and compassionately. The result is brittle with realism: chilling, compelling (despite its at times desperately slow pace), and extremely thought provoking. It's incredibly well acted and filmed in solemn, carefully orchestrated one-shot scenes, but the result, despite utterly convincing intimacy and humanity, can seem almost too expositional, laying out the story's parts almost as if to a philosophical jury rather than a human viewer. The result was a film I admired more than I actually loved. Nonetheless, a unique and remarkable film, and one with undoubted power.

Louis Rogers
Louis Rogers

Super Reviewer

Mungiu delivers yet another powerful and nerve-wracking film that is bound to leave you totally drained by the end of it. Though also a bit unnecessarily repetitive after a while, it is nevertheless a challenging, devastating drama about liberty, devotion, security and obsession.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

Alina (Flutur) and Voichita (Stratan) are two young women who have been friends (and, it's implied, lovers) since their time growing up in one of Romania's notorious orphanages. Upon leaving the orphanage, Alina emigrates to Germany while Voichita joins a convent run by a priest (Andriuta), known to his followers as 'Daddy'. Finding their separation unbearable, Alina arrives at the convent, planning to take Voichita with her to work on a German cruise ship. Voichita resists, claiming God's love is now more important to her than Alina's. Believing her friend has been brainwashed by 'Daddy', Alina determines to disrupt life at the convent but, when she suffers some form of an attack, for which the local hospital can provide no explanation, the sisters at the convent begin to believe she is possessed by the devil. Many critics have labelled Romanian director Mungiu's latest as a cheap shot at religion. Some have compared it to William Friedkin's 'The Exorcist'. I would have to disagree with both these conclusions. Far from attacking religion, Mungiu's film exposes the cruelties of an uncaring state which drives people to religion in search of comfort. The most sympathetic characters in the picture are the members of the convent. They may have a despicable worldview but it's one they genuinely believe in. It would have been easy to paint 'Daddy' as an evil Svengali figure but Mungiu resists the temptation for such a cliche. Despite Alina's suspicions, there's no evidence that the priest is taking advantage of the females in his care. In contrast, the secular authority figures are portrayed as cold and apathetic. When Alina is first brought to the hospital, the nurses moan that she would have been better taken care of at the convent. States who wish to take shortcuts love religious institutions as it means they can pass the weak and vulnerable of society in their direction. When my country, Ireland, won independence from Britain, the same thing happened. The government was broke but the church was loaded and so the task of running the country's education, health and care industries were passed to the church. The horror stories are still emerging to this day. We all know people who condemn the church yet are happy to avail of its services when they wish to hold a marriage or a funeral. These are the people Mungiu is attacking: the hypocrites who moan about religion but are happy to use it when it suits their needs. The film is based on a real-life event, which makes comparisons to 'The Exorcist' ridiculous. It's clear that Alina is not suffering any form of possession. The hospital claims ignorance about her affliction because they simply want her off their hands. Due to their way of thinking, the members of the convent automatically see something they can't explain as the work of God or, in this case, the devil. If a comparison can be made to any successful mid-seventies film it's Milos Forman's 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest'. Like Jack Nicholson's McMurphy in that film, Alina enters an institution with plans of disruption but quickly learns the hard way that the house always wins. With stunning performances across its cast and brilliant direction from Mungiu, 'Beyond the Hills' is a must-see for believers and skeptics alike.

The Movie Waffler
The Movie Waffler

Super Reviewer

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