Beyond The Hills - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Beyond The Hills Reviews

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August 10, 2013
Powerful, absorbing cinema from the great Romanian director Mungiu. Long and slow burning it is none the less compelling in its stark depiction of life in a remote monastery. Religious dogma battles the relationship between two troubled young woman. There is pain and bitter reality in this beautifully framed and acted film. Tough going but the rewards are immense.
August 1, 2013
There are no easy answers. Right for a person could be the wrong for another. Cristian Mungiu is definitely on my list.
½ July 15, 2013
Priest and nuns
Hit the right gun

Seriously, you all, some pretty terrifying stuff here. Go check out if you have time.
½ July 8, 2013
PAINFUL!! This is the slowest film, with the most pointlessly dragged out scenes ever! We forwarded it by an hour and still nothing had happened. I don't normally leave reviews but this film was so bad I feel I should do the public a favour and balance out the other reviews. I can only say I think they must have watched a different movie.
June 28, 2013
Ty Burr, Boston Globe
"Beyond the Hills" seethes with astonishment and rage at a broken society marooned between the 21st century and the 16th.
June 26, 2013
very unintended but i was highly amused more than a few times during the film.
(atheists will have a field day with this one)

it wasn't easy sitting through it (i dare you not to feel the slow pace), but one should. this romanian flick was kinda hypnotic, captivating, and threw up more questions than it answered. and now i am interested to watch this director's earlier film, "4 months 3 weeks and 2 days" (which i have avoided 'cos the subject matter sounded boring and 'done')
June 12, 2013
From the director of 4 months, 3 weeks, 2 days..I will expect a great cinematic experience!
June 12, 2013
Another very fine piece of filmmaking, splendidly harsh viewing.
Super Reviewer
½ June 10, 2013
'Beyond the Hills'. Incited way too much frustration with its whiny protagonist that overshadowed anything it was saying about love.
½ May 27, 2013
hristiyanlarin ortacag sacmaliklari hortlam?s. bildigin akil tutulmasi.
½ May 25, 2013
Cristian Mungiu (4 Month, 3 Weeks, 2 Days), returns with another piece of Romanian New Wave, love, religion, faith and evil.
The movie was too long for its own good, too little details into the characters, a very objective perspective typical of Romanian New Wave.
½ May 17, 2013
Besetting to watch, Beyond the Hills offers a great philosophical reflection to its audience.
½ May 10, 2013
Based on a true story of an exorcism gone wrong in an Orthodox monastery, Cristian Mungiu's new film could have been a simple story of innocent girl vs. superstitious religious zealots, but Mungiu never takes the easy route. Instead, he creates layers upon layers of complexity in characters, relationships and motivations until what finally happens acquires the devastating inevitability of Greek tragedy. Most of all, just like in his previous 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days, he takes what could have been a mere anecdote and lays bare the societal forces that shape people's actions, be it Communism in the first, or patriarchal religion in this film.
½ May 5, 2013
Decade lasting Romanian invasion on pretty much all of the prominent European festivals continued last year with, among others, Cristian Mungiu's Beyond the Hills. Mungiu brought his film to Cannes, the same place he picked up a major award for his 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, one of the most acclaimed works of the past decade. As is the case in these situations, all eyes were pointed in his direction when he finally announced his second feature. If the five year gap between two films tells you he's been aware of those looks, his film confirms that notion in few unpleasant ways. It is obligatory longer than its predecessor, has an obligatory controversial theme and has won him few obligatory awards. It also presents itself as an obligatory viewing for fans of serious cinema.

This time around, director stays in the present (months, weeks, days happened in the late eighties) in the story set in a remote orthodox monastery, where nun Voichita (Cosmina Stratan)receives a visitor from Germany, her friend Alina (Cristiana Frutun, both very convincing). Two girls were friends in the orphanage, became something more (we can be pretty sure of that) later, had an arrangement to go work together abroad, but that's now in danger of being delayed because Voichita has found in the monastery life calm and security she feels she has no chance of getting anywhere else. Alina decides to stay with her for a while, with both girls showing substantial dependency on one another, without the courage to admit their paths can't go in the same direction any more.

Alina's attempts to adjust to a life in monastery and become member of a community whose strict readings of The Bible she has no desire of accepting induce few convulsions of rage, prompting the well-meaning priest to believe she is possessed by Satan. The cure is one many moviegoer's have seen on the big screen in the last 40 years, but not often, if ever, in a picture like this.

There are several times when we follow characters leaving the monastery and interacting with regular people. They visit dreary, unequipped hospitals, cold rooms of the police station , take a quick gaze in the hopelessness of the orphanage Alina and Voichita grew up in. After a while, those scenes cause the movie to loose direction. Social themes, structurally set in the background, come to the fore in an intensity that does damage to the balance of the entire piece. Voichita, burdened with group mentality, takes the sacral direction mainly because she has been either failed by other formal institutions, or she has had no reason to rely on their help. In the monastery, separated, she knows all of the promises, though modest, will be fulfilled in the end.

The other conflict, one that puts the ostensible security of blind faith against the risks of giving confidence to another human being threatens to fade away as a consequence of the permeation mentioned above. One gets the feeling that all of the time spent inside the church walls has no real purpose, other than stressing out the social context. As a consequence, some might find the exorcism scenes sensationalist or out of place. Either way, their futility remains.

Mungiu can probably justify two and a half hours running time with a carefully choreographed turn of events, where he needed the last half an hour to put a stamp on many points he pursued. Still, one truth remains. All the layers of suggestive darkness that soak the screen from the first minutes (this is one of those pictures where shades of black are covered by the shades of gray) can't conceal the lack of one memorable scene. Everything is staged with monotonous expertise, as if writer-director thought some small burst of spontaneity would violate his overwrought plan. I'm talking, for example about that wonderful scene in Ceylan's Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, where the first appearance of a female figure, almost an hour into a film, makes both us and the characters forget about everything else. In a picture with contemplative pace this strict, we have a right to expect at least one of those.
April 24, 2013
An amazing surprise, I loved every single moment of it! The scenery, the lights, the characters, the language: everything was perfect.
April 21, 2013
Young nuns living a life of seclusion in a monastary. The air of lust and yearning is all around, as are hints of possession, the demonic kind. But Beyond The Hills is no sex-filled horror show, rather it's a subtle, artful and moving take on whats sacred and what most certainly is not. Beyond The Hills is the excellent third film from Romanian director Christian Mungiu, who made his mark with his potent 2007 abortion drama 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days. Beyond The Hills is a more cerebral, intimate affair. Alina (Cristina Flutur) has arrived at the monastary to see her childhood friend Voichita (Cosmina Stratan), who now serves as a nun. There are hints these two best friends may have been more, but its never spelled out one way or another. There's only Alina's desire to take Voichita away to a life beyond the monastary. The subtleties and nuances are a testament to both actresses, who are superb. And Mungiu skillfully allows for the bleakness of their lives to come front and center. Anyone looking for spinning heads and projectile vomiting are in the wrong place. There's no Exorcist craziness going on here, just nuanced and potent provocation. Its result are astonishing.
April 18, 2013
A film showing that naive faith and religion can be harmful and out of time in our modern world.
April 13, 2013
4 out of 5 stars. This review from the Toronto Globe & Mail states it well - "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." Cristian Mungiu is a brilliant writer-director and with his follow up to the harrowing Cannes Palme D'Or winning abortion film, "4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days," this is another searing journey to the dark side of humanity. Shot in long takes that allow the actors to work up a storm, it sets up the conflicts between characters that explode in unexpected ways and force you to examine many sides to the issues he raises. Winner of the Cannes Best Screenplay and a co-win for the lead actresses, this is a world class film that will be studied by future generations.
April 8, 2013
L'amore tra due ragazze finisce quando una di esse sceglie l'amore spirituale, la non rassegnazione inserita nel contesto monastico diventa possessione demoniaca, la buona fede nell'agire secondo il proprio credo diventa inevitabilmente crimine.
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