Arnon Grunberg



“Beyond the Hills” the new movie from the Romanian director Cristian Mungiu is not easy to digest, but that is hardly a surprise after his widely praised “4 months, 3 weeks and 2 days”.
“Beyond the Hills” is about two girls who were good friends in an orphanage. One of them went to a monastery; the other went to Germany for work. She might have worked there as a waitress, as her friend claims, she might have been a prostitute, we don’t know.
There is not much consolation in this movie; everything appears to be bleak, dire and ugly: the people, the food, the landscapes and the houses.
Anthonly Lane suggests in his review in The New Yorker that this movie is about the clash between the religious old order and the secular new order in a country like Romania.
Yes, perhaps. But I was reminded of my sister’s community on the West Bank.
It’s cruelty that keeps communities together. Cristian Mungiu freshes up our memories. And the good thing about this movie is that the cruelty is not perpetrated by “evil people”, but by decent people who believe in the inevitability of suffering, in the name of modesty and morality.
Yes, there is the shallowness of hedonism, but Mungiu tells us that there is the shallowness of faith as well.
And above all of course there is a thing beyond all shallowness and that thing is called poverty.

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