Beyond The Hills - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Beyond The Hills Reviews

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½ October 9, 2017
A powerful drama about faith and the life in the mountains of Romania. It also reminds me much of Denis Diderot's The Nun.
½ March 18, 2017
Of all the many, many foreign language films I have seen, only a sparse handful are from Romania, but every one of them has impressed me with their rich detail, and their sensibilities to the lives of people in their country. Beyond the Hills, directed by Cristian Mungiu (who also did the masterful 2007 film 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days) continues in that pattern. It tells the story of two young women, longtime friends who grew up together in an orphanage. Their lives have taken very different paths while they've been apart. One, Voichita, played by Cosmina Stratan, has found a calling as a nun in a Romanian convent; the other, Alina, played by Cristina Flutur, has lived in Germany for work, and once they reunite there's a tension from the start. The person that each has become, conflict with the relations they used to have to each other-relations of a deeper sort at least one of them wants to rekindle once more.

While both young ladies staying at the convent, Alina is impatient with her friend's Orthodox piousness, and angry with the other nuns and the head priest there, and she acts outs erratically and at times violently. Voichita meanwhile tries to make Alina find her way in God. Both these performances, of almost polar-opposite tones, come in vivid believability. Flutur's wildness is extraordinary to see, but Stratan's emotive restraint is nearly as impressive. The pace of the story builds gradually but never uninterestingly, rich with the Romanian setting and character interactions, making scenes of even apparent mundane tasks compelling (a scene of Voichita getting her friend a document reminded me a lot of a scene in Mungiu's, 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, where one the main character tries to register a hotel room for her friend to get an abortion in). It's has a gritty realism that doesn't typically shock (though there is at least one big shock) as much as it gets under the viewer's skin.

Beyond the Hills is not an easy film to watch, particularly in the turn it takes towards the end. I won't say much about it other than it concerns very much how the push and pull conflict of the two protagonists comes to ahead in a sequence of ignorant decisions based on superstition (in addition to the lack of interest of people outside the convent). At the end, there's a shot of somebody's face that will not be easily forgotten. This is a film which rewards patience and appreciation of detail, and though at nearly two and a half hours it is not a slog at all if you let it draw you in. It's not quite at the level of 4 Month, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, but, thanks in large part to the two strong leads and the director's building of their story, it comes quite close.
½ July 21, 2016
A complex story plot describing a tragic division of life paths of two female friends who found themselves either into grinding mill of bigotry in church structures or into that of a cold bureaucratic apparatus. This poetically told story leads us through meditative winter landscapes and dark interiors of the monastery where, besides obvious social issues, one can vaguely discern a disturbing relationship between the two friends consisting of perplexing resignation and self-destruction. The success of this work lies in the abundance of details which bring the audience into contemplation about human nature.
May 2, 2016
This is a Romanian film about a girl who reunites with a former lover who has now become a nun. Unfortunately, this girl has some significant trouble accepting her friend's new holy lifestyle and struggles with how to be with the woman she loves without wanting to live the life of a nun for herself. There's a lot of ambiguity in this story that is never explained for the audience. We are left to judge for ourselves if the priest and nuns behave inappropriately, if the young woman has a mental illness of some kind, or even if she is actually possessed. As far as I'm concerned...I don't care. The movie moved back and forth between 2 things I hate watching on film. Half the time it was really slow and extraordinarily boring. Every person spends most of the movie talking in very hushed tones, there is basically no music in the film, it's loaded with dead air. In fact, it took me multiple days to finish this movie because I kept falling asleep while watching. The times when the movie wasn't boring, it was annoying. I constantly wanted to slap some sense into the characters, and was frustrated by their stupid decisions. I can see some of the intriguing elements of Beyond the Hills and why it might fascinate more "cultured" movie-goers. But my big, dumb brain just didn't care.
March 14, 2016
Between faith and winning a heart back.

This is my second Romanian movie in 3 weeks to review in WCA. And both of them were the Oscars sent movie that never made into the final stage. My Romanian movie count is not exceeded to double digit, but I think now I started to like them and hoping to watch many more in the days to come. This movie was less expected by me, well, I was delaying it for some times, eventually finished it with highly satisfied.

From the director of the Golden Globe Nominee movie '4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days' brings the story of two young women who were once abused when in orphanage that led them to bond closely before going their separate ways after leaving the place. One of them returns from working in Germany to win another's heart back who has now found a place in a convent. How the things work out between them, with their new life and the past attachment that affect not only them but entire convent.

If 'Ida' made into the Oscars, I don't know why this one failed to make. Both of them were kind of similar, about the characters who were caught between the faith and emotion. One's true commitment to the faith is tested with the unexpected encounter with the desires. Is the religion too innocence in the modern world? While the human civilisation shifting its phase to the next stage, the 2000 years old belief is struggling to pull together. In that platform this movie was narrated a wonderful story.

"Continuity is essential in our spiritual realm.
You can't stop for a break when you feel like it."

The tale was quite clearly displayed when one has to choose between two, even knowing what the reality is, but fixed with their devoted mind on one. Maybe like coming from the orphanage, knowing all the struggles about life, this is the way they pledged to help the society. In the perspective of hardcore believers, the movie might be a little hurtful, but nothing serious offensive. It was just a movie, and sometimes it was a dark comedy that was not intended, but anyway I had a few good laughs.

I am really happy for the movie, I won't consider it an outcry about religious cruelty. Unlike hospitals that legally runs performances, while a monastery like this raises a few questions within its practice that performed against someone's will. After all it was inspired by the real even that took place in the 2005 and mostly factual than fiction.

This was set in the present time, but most of the movie shot in a convent just outskirt of a city, so gives the feel of the 60s, 70s or earlier to that. Because their lifestyle that disconnects from the rest of the world, including their financial struggle. An ideal location for the story and its title. Shot in two different seasons similar to change in the phase and pace of the tale to the intensified conclusion. I loved everyone's performance. Definitely it is not in the line of 'Spotlight', but you can't ignore where the movie is pointing out on what went wrong. In my opinion, it is a must see and surely suggest it for all, well, mostly adults for its sensitiveness.

½ July 19, 2015
Only second only film I have ever given up on in my life. Slow, slow and dull
December 22, 2014
B (88%) movie. Blue-ray Disc. This movie is an irony based on the practice of exorcism performed by an isolated Orthodox convent in Romania. It is serious but also silly because of human ignorance. The clever nuns and priest in the story are good but ignorant believers. They unintentionally killed an innocent girl by believing she has been possessed by evil, which is actually nothing demonic but human desire of love. Of course, this secular desire is demonic to the spiritual eyes of the ones who seek to escape from it in an isolated world of God. Based on true events, this film is worth watching especially for those good and religious people.
½ December 3, 2014
Slow but completely engrossing this reality based "exorcism gone wrong" tale if far more nuanced and balanced than I expected.
February 15, 2014
This is very, very bleak, but definitely worth watching.
December 27, 2013
The film is fascinating when you think about it: gay repression, religiosity as violence, european immigration... Yet, such thoughts, it seems to me, aren't borne directly of the film, but through an assessment of its untapped potentiality. The film is an absolute slog and a great example of the kind of "european, art cinema" you don't want the uninitatied to see, lest they believe the stereotypes of inertia, boredom and pretentiousness. The film's final shot, of a suddenly muddied windshield, is absolutely hysterical.
½ December 2, 2013
Get back if you were put off by Romanian writer-director Cristian Mungiu's landmark 2007 debut "4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days". His follow-up "Beyond the Hills" is an even bigger thing to handle -- more spacious, ambitious, drawn-out and indulgent. If that's not your cup of tea, so be it. But for those prepared to face questions without easy answers -- maybe even without any answers at all -- "Hills" is a stoic, graceful achievement from a filmmaker in his prime, one that works in whispers; scary and scared, knowing and ignorant, the all-powerful preying on the fearful, burdened shoulders of the weak. (92/100)
½ November 16, 2013
another anti-religion movie filled with stupidity of the church and stuff! the only reason for it to be rewarded that much. I admit that it is directed very well but the actors performance and screenplay are seriously weak. didn't enjoy it and i don't recommend it to people who want to entertain themselves by a movie. this one sucks as an entertainment.
October 28, 2013
This is a movie that requires EFFORT. To start with it is 2 1/2 hours of unrelenting dull obedience to rules and regulations in a monastery, orphanage and hospital where the act of obedience is enough and of course removes any personal responsibility from the individual.
Where individuals do scrape a space for themselves you almost wish they hadn't.
What is really mysterious is that the film is riveting.
Go figure, but see the film first.
½ October 4, 2013
Crazy god-addicted people living in a convent and their weird way of living is for me something more special than just a foreign culture. One of the nuns there gets a visit from her friend that used to stay at the same orphanage as her. They have a, let's say, special friendship that should be hidden from the rest of the society.

This is a slow, long film. It's never boring, but it keeps grinding and grinding. The constant development creates a certain feel of the film, and it made me feel angry, glad, anoyed, unfaithful - loads of feelings came to mind. Amazing debut performances from the two leads - so good in fact that they both won prizes in Cannes. A mixture of "The Exorsist", "Of Gods and Men" and the directors last film "4 luni, 3 saptamāni si 2 zile". I loved the directors last one, but this masterpiece is just as good for me. It makes you think a lot, you want to read between the lines and think. I must also praise it for it's very fine cinematography the real culture and deep subjects. It's very long, that may be the only negative thing here, even if it does not feel THAT long.

A film that's provoking, it's testing belives and religion, it's very up for the task of being discussed. I guess ethics and love are in the picture here as well. It's actually based on a true story as well, that amaze me. Woah.

9 out of 10 amandments.
½ September 26, 2013
Although Beyond the Hills feels like a accomplished film I did get a similar detachment that I felt with Mungiu's previous work, 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days. Perhaps his films take a bit longer to sink in than I have given them. Perhaps his style is simply to cold to affect me on a gut level. Paradoxically while I found 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days to lack subtlety, Beyond the Hills may well have been too subtle. Of course due to timing issues I was forced to watch this in 3 sittings. It is possible that this dampened the films impact so I'll give it another chance in the future. It does comment quite succinctly about the power of faith in God and the potential damage that blind faith can cause. This, more than the plight one any individual character, was the overwhelming notion that I took from the film.
September 10, 2013
Its interesting that while Hollywood ties itself up in knots looking for new ideas some of the best films around are coming from a worldwide market.
This is one of those films and its nothing short of a masterpiece if one that not for everyones taste.
Alina is an orphan who's very best friend Voichita has joined a remote moanstry and is living a strict religious life under the watchful eye of the head preist and the older nuns.
Alina is short tempered and semmingly troubled by an undisclosed isssue in her past andd she is desperate for her friend to come away with her for a life in Germany.
The trouble starts when Voichita is reluctant to go and Alina blames the preist and nuns for corrupting Voichitas mind.
Alina begins to lose control and the nuns believe she is possesed by the devil which leads to a shocking chain of events .
The secret of the films excellence lies in the acting and direction ,the two female leads are both outstanding and the all of the cast give great performances.
The direction by Cristian Mungui is surefooted and in parts very eerie as we see the nuns actions amidst the raw Romanian winter setting.
The subject od god and an absence of religion is handled with supreme confidence and although the film is long you never become bored with the events as they unfold before you .
A masterpiece of filmaking and one of the best films of 2013
August 20, 2013
Christian Mungiu succeeds at mystifying, shocking and disgusting with this film. "Beyond the Hills" is a hard hitting and emotional film, executed with a sense of realism in mind. Christina Flutur and Cosmina Stratan deliver excellent performances and Christian Mungiu's gritty direction elevates this film to great heights.
½ August 18, 2013
Its intriguing and fascinating, haunting as well, particularly the belief in faith, however, like most films of current cinema, the duration of the film is demanding and detrimental
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