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Wild At Heart - Beyond The Hills movie review

Wild Bill Ketelhut provides the "blog" to this anti-blog

Wild At Heart

Before watching this film I was was unfamiliar with Romanian director Cristian Mungiu but this was a very good introduction. "Beyond The Hills" tells the story of two friends, Alina and Voichita, who grew up together in an orphanage. There friendship blossomed into becoming lovers and they pledged mutual fidelity. We take up the film as Alina has recently arrived from Germany, where she ran off to to make money as a barmaid, to bring her childhood friend back. The reunion is not what she hoped for as Voichita has found a new best friend....God. Alina is hopeful Voichita will come back to Germany with her but as time for there trip gets close, the pull of God is too strong for Voichita as she declines to leave the convent.

Alina decides to stay in hopes of changing Voichita's mind and while Voichita believes her friend is sincere others have different opinions. The priest reluctantly agrees to let Alina stay at the convent but is worried about her influence. He sees her as troubled and materialistic but allows his respect of Voichita to allow her to stay for a bit. This is when things go wrong as Alina starts having fits and violent outbreaks that threaten the very nature of the convent. It is determined through much debate that Alina is possessed by a demon and eventually gets to the point where the Priest is convinced to perform an exorcism. This could have devastating effects for the the lives of everyone at the convent and Mungiu brings forth a compelling narrative.

This film works beautifully as we are made to feel the lives of these two girls that have attempted vastly different paths since leaving the orphanage. Watching Voichita's love for her friend as Alina's selfishness for what once was collide in this rural convent turns out to be very captivating. I really enjoyed the complexity presented by the relationship between the two girls and the priest. One wonders if Alina is acting out of pure jealousy that religion now takes the place of Alina's protection at the orphanage or if she truly loves her in a more carnal way. Nothing is truly clear cut to our benefit. We also have the conflict between the old ways presented by the convent vs the Western ways as presented by Alina. There are clues presented that the Priest is also somewhat of a rebel and one could see Alina as still trying to protect Voichita from an abusive Priest. There are many ways to interpret the relationship, but mainly it is evident that the director will allow us to put our own meaning into it and not give away too much.

Overall a wonderfully presented film that will not disappoint and makes the over 2 hour run time seem to go by fast as we are allowed to look at this captivating story. My grade is a A- and it opened today at the Main Art Theatre in Royal Oak.