Friday, August 11, 2017


Szerelmesfilm; drama / romance, Hungary, 1970; D: István Szabó, S: András Bálint, Judit Halász, Edit Kelemen, András Szamosfalvi, Flóra Kádár

Jancsi, a man in his 30s, finally gets the permission to travel from Budapest to Paris to see Kata, whom he hasn't seen for years. During his train trip, he remembers their childhood: during World War II, his father died and Kata teased him for that, but he could not be angry at her. They witnessed hunger and how their neighbor was killed. Kata and Jancsi became friends, but as students, when he tried to kiss her, she refused. Later on, they still became lovers. However, in '56, the Hungarian Revolution marked another crisis, and Kata was among the many thousands of refugees who fled to the West. Back in present, Jancsi meets Kata and they spend a couple of romantic days in her apartment. They also travel to the sea. However, Jancsi departs back to Budapest. He tries to stay, but feels like a stranger in Paris. He marries another woman in Budapest, Jutka, and recieves a letter from Kata, who said that she got married to an Englishman in Paris.

Istvan Szabo's 3rd feature length film is a melancholic, tragic and gentle elegy of a failed romance of a young couple, who in the end lament about their "rotten childhood" during World War II and the '56 Hungarian Revolution, and thus also symbolically represent the lost generation of that failed era, whose lives were ruined. Similarly like Fellini's "Amarcord", "Lovefilm" also has a 'stream-of-consciousness' narrative, structured like a vague recollection of childhood memories of the protagonist, except that Szabo's movie is far more bleak and sad, with only a couple of minuscule moments of humor that manage to liven up the mood (in one example, Jancsi remembers how he and Kata, when they were kids, planned to dissect a dead fish, but wanted to make sure it is dead so they decided to electrocute it with wires from the doorbell - but only caused a power outage in the whole street). There is some undermining tragedy in Jancsi and Kata who are surrounded by war and turmoil, but who insist on trying to live their fragile lives normally, through snow sledding or falling in love, trying to make "the best days of their lives" during the worst times. This makes even their romantic reunion in Paris bitter, since they became citizens of two separate worlds in the time of being apart. However, at a running time of 120 minutes, the movie is slightly overlong and exhaustive, lacking a certain ingenuity or inventiveness to truly cover up for the slightly routine episodes here and there, which could have been presented in a far more compact way.


No comments: