4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days is an unflinchingly honest look at the very real horror stories played out in the lives of young girls in Romania during the communist regime’s abortion ban. Following college roommates Gabita and Otilia throughout the day of Gabita’s illegal abortion, the film simply tells it like it is, or rather, how it was.

Loss of innocence is a prevalent theme as the day drags on from youthful dorm life to nervous preparations to the final suspenseful moments once the act is done. The audience shares in Gabita and Otilia’s anxiety knowing that it truly is a matter of life, death or incarceration. Many women died from the crude techniques and unsanitary conditions that resulted from the abortion ban, and Romanian law at the time dictated that if any party was caught even aiding in the illegal procedure, they would spend years in jail.

Palme d’Or winner at Cannes and Romania’s Academy Awards entry for Best Foreign Film, there is good reason for the attention this film is garnering. The acting, paired with writer-director Cristian Mungiu’s gift for realism in dialogue, proves so convincing that at times the film feels like a home video or documentary.

Adding to this is Mungiu’s meticulous attention to detail in recreating an era in Romania’s past without stumbling into cliché. Indeed, this story is so deeply personal that it almost seems too uncomfortable for the big screen, and yet it’s a story that demands to be told lest history be repeated.

Grade: A-

4 Months, 3 Weeks And 2 Days releases in select theaters Feb. 1.