“Beyond the Hills” is a lesbian love story with an exorcism

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Beyond the Hills has won several awards at international film festivals since it premiered in 2012, and now it is finally hitting theaters this month in limited cities. The Romanian film from director Cristian Mungiu follows a relationship between two young women who have known each other their entire lives. There is certainly more than a friendship to their involvement, though their relationships with God, the church, and society complicate things for them in the worst ways.

Cristina Flutur plays Alina, who returns to Romania from Germany where she spent five years after fleeing from her orphanage where she met and grew up beside Voichita (Cosmina Stratan). But Voichita has tried to forget their relationship, despite Alina’s longing to return to the way they once were, and is now a nun. When she starts to remember what it was like to share what she had with Alina, Voichita’s “Papa” thinks she needs an exorcism. So it’s not exactly a romantic comedy, if you catch my drift.

Cristina Flutur recently discussed the girls’ relationship with Interview magazine:

If you try to define it, you end up trying to name something that’s quite hard to name. At the beginning, I just was wondering what was happening between these two girls. I wanted to know the relationship; I wanted to know exactly what was happening so I could try to understand it and try to uncover it. But after a few days of trying to get some answers from Cristian, I just love the way he avoided the answers. I kind of understand that I didn’t need them anymore. In real life, you don’t know everything about the relationships you are involved in, so you are a bit insecure. Not always, but there are some moments when you are like this. It’s not right for an actor to try to find out everything, like on a piece of paper having everything checked, “I know this. I know this.” It’s frustrating to start without knowing these answers, but it’s more challenging.

 

This film won both women the shared Best Actress award at the Cannes Film Festival and was shortlisted for Best Foreign Film for the Oscars, so it’s surely worth seeing, even with the dark subject matter. What makes it even more interesting is it is based on a real life case in Moldavia, where a girl was killed at a monastery in 2005. Writer Tatiana Niculescu Bran penned a novel about the tragedy, and it became the subject matter for Beyond the Hills. The first book, Deadly Confession, told the story that was decidedly Sapphic, with Irinia and Kitza having been lovers and upon Kitza’s telling her Father of their relationship, was diagnosed at schizophrenic. I will not spoil the ending for you, but it does sound like the film and book follow the true story quite closely.

Cristina said she read the book before filming beacuse ” I wanted to know about the real facts. I felt like it was a sign of respect for them, because without them, we wouldn’t have had this film at all.”

Beyond the Hills is playing now in select theaters and we be available OnDemand on March 14.

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