tue 25/02/2020

DVD: Beyond the Hills | reviews, news & interviews

DVD: Beyond the Hills

DVD: Beyond the Hills

The director of '4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days' returns with a meditation on friendship and the mystical

Before the fall: Voichita (Cosmina Stratan) and Alina (Cristina Flutur) in ' Beyond the Hills'

Returning from Germany to her native Romania, Alina is reunited with her childhood friend Voichita, now resident in a convent. The pair return to Voichita’s orthodox sanctuary but Alina changes. Aggressive, hearing voices and seemingly suicidal, she disrupts the convent. Eventually, she is exorcised. The tragic consequences result in the nuns, including Voichita, and their priest being taken away by police who think Alina may have been crucified.

Cristian Mungiu’s Beyond the Hills is based on a real case. Like his 4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days, it’s long and unfolds slowly – almost glacially. Shocking events are taken as commonplace, with little reaction from protagonists or participants. A sense of creeping dread permeates. Cristina Flutur switches Alina’s moods on and off with disquieting precision, while Cosmina Stratan’s Voichita finely balances the submissiveness required to live in the convent with care and love for her friend. Valeriu Andriuta’s priest is out of his depth, but coping as best he can.

Beyond the Hills is not a possessed nun drama, but a finely wrought examination of a friendship and love that are tested by extreme circumstances. It’s also a study of the effect of the arrival of an outsider steered by something seemingly mystical on a remote community. As such (setting aside Romania's increasingly strong cinematic voice), it stands alongside other recent entries in this canon of similarly underpinned European films set in similarly isolated settings: Kosmos and Hors Satan, as well as Le Quattro Volte and Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, which both intermittently journeyed into the spiritual and magical-realist. Mungiu’s voice is his own but, like the directors of all of these, he is – to a greater or lesser degree – influenced by Tarkovsky and Bresson. The absorbing Beyond the Hills is up there with the best from these directors.

The extras on the DVD include the trailer and an interview with Mungiu.

Visit Kieron Tyler’s blog

Watch the trailer for Beyond the Hills

Shocking events are taken as commonplace. A sense of creeping dread permeates


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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