Who's in It: Anamaria Marinca, Laura Vasiliu, Vlad Ivanov

The Basics: It's 1987, and a Romanian college student who needs an illegal abortion books a hotel room with her roommate, contacts a doctor and negotiates the procedure, one that could get them all 10-year prison sentences. And though it's about an abortion, it's not "about" abortion. It's more concerned with the run-of-the-mill everyday grind of living under oppressive circumstances.

What's the Deal? What's great about this movie is its cold, black, wet, low-grade dread. No one's screaming about Communism, no attack dogs chase people past a checkpoint, no speeches about freedom lost — just people buying black-market cigarettes, having family dinners, being treated rudely by service-industry employees and having mundanely horrifying hotel-room abortions. And though it's not extremely graphic, you witness it all, too, so brace yourself for that, even though the actual abortion and its aftermath are almost less disturbing than the human interaction taking place around it. The doctor turns out to be a mean, exploitive creep, and the young women's relationship undergoes an irrevocable transformation. You won't be forgetting you saw this one.

Who's Great: All three leads are amazing. The two women are almost silent-film stars because they convey so much with so few words. And Ivanov, as the wickedly unpleasant doctor, is so brutal he'll make you feel like you're the one in trouble.

Who Won't Like the Bloody, Fetus-Displaying Truth of It: Hardcore pro-lifers, for its obvious critical stance against the torture of illegal terminations. Meanwhile, it also doesn't flinch about the consequences, either. When I say "fetus-displaying" I mean "fetus-displaying."

Awards: Winner of the highest prize at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival, the Palme d'Or. Winner of European Film Awards Best Film and Best Director. Nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film.


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