America Cannes

Art imitates life as U.S. directors command this year's fest, with only China rivaling for celluloid domination.

Set in 1987, when abortion was illegal in Romania, 4 Months depicts late communism as a barter economy in which everything is a hassle and male privilege is a given; it unfolds in a sustained sense of dread. The young women are foolish and naive, but never less than sympathetic. The movie's unsentimental humanism was all the more impressive in the light of Andrei Zvyagintsev's The Banishment, a Christian allegory on an unwanted pregnancy that's also in competition. Zvyagintsev won first prize at Venice his first time out with The Return; The Banishment is even more accomplished, but while it is in essence the imitation of art, 4 Months is the imitation of life.

Norah Jones saves room for pie in My Blueberry Nights.
Norah Jones saves room for pie in My Blueberry Nights.

A movie of long, behavioral takes, 4 Months resembles Lazarescu -- which was shot by the same DP -- in choreographing a process. The tone, however, is more grim than grimly humorous. Brilliant as it is, 4 Months is likely to be a harder sell: It's a movie about abortion that makes Vera Drake look like Mary Poppins.

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