Immediately after winning the 2007 Palme dOr at Cannes, writer-director Cristian Mungius breakthrough film drew comparisons to the work of Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne. And for good reason: Mungiu has learned much from the Belgian auteurs. Mungius deceptively simple story unfolds in long takes that leave cinematographer Oleg Mutus masterful handheld camera unfetteredone minute trailing a character down a series of dark alleys, another patiently observing an excruciating dinner party. Mungius success truly lies, though, in his humanism. 4 Months . . . demonstrates deep compassion for its characters, who have all the complexity of real people trapped in dire circumstances. Specifically, two young women navigate a corrupt, decaying Romanian town to obtain an abortion for one of them during the final days of the oppressive regime of Nicolae Ceauşescu. Their harrowing journey, breathlessly told in what feels likebut isntreal time, makes for essential cinema: intimate, haunting, and politically engaged.