- English subtitles
Come, draw up a chair with the cosy Anghelescu family. Well, cosy: we haven’t even started yet and the accusations and revelations are already flying across the table. With abortion being just one of the issues. And always that unspoken question: what do you think?
The Romanian language isn’t all that hard. Ilegitim means illegitimate, against the law. But is that the same as immoral – imoral? Listen to the father when his children confront him with the fact that as a doctor under the Ceausescu dictatorship, he reported women to the authorities when they asked for an abortion. He flips back and forth between law and morality while defending himself. He is against abortion, so he still stands by what he did. He didn’t ‘report women’ – he prevented abortions! But he also hides behind the laws of that time (today abortion is legal in Romania).
The (adult) children don’t know what feels worse to them: that their father was an informer, or that he hadn’t told them before. A fierce argument ensues and derails into moral chaos. Because what if you hear that your own abortion was once considered? When you’re put to the test yourself? When it concerns your parent, your child?
Not ‘reporting women’ – preventing abortions!
The father didn’t see it as his problem if a woman ended up in the illegal circuit – and the most gruesome, which also happens to be the best, illegal abortion film ever made also happens to be Romanian: 4 months, 3 weeks and 2 days by Cristian Mungiu from 2007.
Just like Ilegitim, that movie is part of the New Romanian Cinema. Always combining hyperrealistic acting with an urgency. At the same time, Ilegitim is different. Earlier Romanian films mainly showed the failure of social institutions. The moral issues in Ilegitim are universal. Including some issues that would not only be impossible ‘in modern-day Romania’, as someone laments in the film, but will also, I suspect, cause some debate at the Pluk bar afterwards.
KEES Driessen (translation by Marjan Westbroek)