Thursday, February 7, 2008
4 Months 3 Weeks and 2 Days. Trading Sex.
Person A asks person B for X. If B gives X to A, B will go to jail for 10 years, maybe even life. Person A offers B money. B doesn’t want money. B wants sex. They have sex. B gives X to A. Fair? As long as X is not essential to A’s life, I think so. No injustice has been committed.
The genders in this scenario are kept neutral because they shouldn’t matter. It happens in Hollywood and corporate America every day, and the genders are interchangeable. People trade sex for all sorts of things.
For example, wannabe star wants a part. Producer and Wannabe decide the part will be given in exchange for sex. Or middle manager seeks promotion. Middle manager trades sex for promotion.
It’s all very gross, but it isn’t called the oldest profession for nothing. An argument can be made regarding the effect of prostitution on communities, but at its core, prostitution is a personal choice and not injust or unethical.
In 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days, a pregnant student seeks an abortion in communist Romania where they are illegal. If the technician is caught, he will serve ten years in prison. If the pregnancy is terminated after five months, he’ll be tried for murder. We don’t know under which circumstances she conceived, but we have no reason to believe it’s the result of rape or incest or a life-and-death situation. What’s clear is that the pregnant student and her friend want to finish school so that they won’t be sent to the countryside to work.
The students have options, but they find the cheapest person who will perform the abortion. But he’s cheapest because he doesn’t want any money at all. The only thing he’ll risk his freedom for is sex with two college students. The girls are faced with a new decsion, and I won’t tell you how they decide, but the writer has produced a perfect fork; no matter which way the story goes, it will be interesting. The writer has taken something fairly common in film and intensified it by loading the variables with emotionally charged and politically sensitive topics.
What’s remarkable is the American audience’s reaction. While I was thinking about the Marxist idea that prostitution would be non-existent in communism and how an oppressive Marxist government in this case was turning people into prostitutes, while I was comparing the story to Of Mice and Men, the rest of the audience was blaming the abortion technician, which I think is odd. Should he have done the job for free? Why should he accept the money if he doesn’t want it? Does anyone expect a criminal to risk his freedom out of the goodness of his heart? The situtation is quite disgusting, but the film is merely depicting the desperate measures people will take to obtain what a ridiculous law prohibits.
I wish I could talk with a Romanian about their reactions to 4 Months; Americans always seem ill-equipped to talk about why they feel certain ways or why things are happening the way they are. They get all riled up when things happen that offend them, but they never take it a step further. They just get really upset and angry.
A great film.