Aldous Huxley, author of Brave New World, stated that “experience is not what happens to you; it’s what you do with what happens to you.” This quote lingered within my thoughts for the majority of the 2013 movie year because there is a remarkable number of films that confirm Huxley’s statement with shocking clarity. During 2013 the majority of characters in cinema experienced a relentless assault of either irrepressible physical violence or emotional turmoil, resulting in each character clinging to their lives, praying that they won’t become defeated. Characters had to either sink or swim. No film provided for them a middle ground that would grant them an easy way out or provide a buoy for them. Characters had to act, and act fast.
In Gravity, becoming disconnected from her partner in the infinite void of space, Dr. Stone had to gain composure quickly or endure an onslaught of debris and isolation. In The Place Beyond the Pines, a cop had to rely on his survival instincts and the ramifications of his decision reverberated throughout generations. In Blue is the Warmest Color, a confused teenage woman, utterly love-sick, discovers the throes and pangs of first love and is left even more confused after the indelible experience. In Dallas Buyers Club, an AIDs victim with a guaranteed death-sentence uses his situation to give hope to thousands of other AIDs victims. And in The Counselor, a man’s experience overwhelms him and he is soon exposed to the most unsavory circumstances that are beyond his control and the most heinous individuals.
Without further hesitance, the best 2013 had to offer.
Beyond The Hills Directed by Cristian Mungiu
Starring: Cosmina Stratan, Cristina Flutur, Valeriu Andriuta and Dana Tapalaga
Release Date: March 14, 2013
Available now On Demand
Over the hills and far away from the faintest semblance of civilization rests a quaint, remote monastery in the wintery farm lands of contemporary Romania. The environment seems to fend off all qualities of society, most noticeably human feeling and human contact, in exchange for a devout connection with God. Appreciating the joys of human affection is totally taboo in monastic life, and yet the inhabitants of the monastery scarcely understand the absence of crucial and life-sustaining aspects of humanity. Being one with God is all they yearn for. Only an unswerving worship reigns supreme as sisters and a priest are over-determined to praise their God fervently, oblivious to everything that isn’t religious oriented. Director Cristian Mungiu‘s perspective of this monastery in Beyond The Hills is astounding, as he evokes a bygone era when humans were petrified of what God’s wrath would incur.