Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Judit Halász, Andras Balint, Edit Kelemen, András Szamosfalvi, Rita Békés
Director: István Szabó
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
Egy ember es egy asszony
Alex Udvary | chicago, il United States | 08/07/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"At first glance I thought "Szerelmesfilm (AKA Lovefilm)" was going to be one of director Istvan Szabo's less political films and more romantic. As the film continued on, I soon began to realize this movie is just about as political as Szabo's other films including; "Sunshine", "Mephisto", "Colonel Redl", and "25 Fireman's Street". Only "Lovefilm" is a much more subtle film. On the surface it seems like a tale of young love but very quickly, if you look beyond the surface, you'll see a film about a clashes of two different worlds, and a film about a love of country. Thinking it over, that shouldn't have surprised me. As I said before, the film was directed by Istvan Szabo. And all the films I've seen by him deal with the same subject.
Kata (Judit Halasz) and Jancsi (Szabo regular, Andras Balint) have known each other since childhood. And since that time have felt a closeness to each other. I don't want to call it love, because at their young age, do they really know what love is? At my age, I'm not sure I do. None of us know what the heck is going on either!
The two have not seen each other for about 10 years. Kata, after the Hungarian Revolution, left Budapest for France. Jancsi stood behind. Now, after an exchange of a few letters, Jancsi is on a train headed towards Kata.
The film's story structure at this point is primarily flashbacks. And admitedly it can confuse some. I sure was at moments. This is a movie that requires multiple viewing. That may turn off some people. It makes the film sound too demanding. But, when a film is this good, you'll want to watch it over and over again anyway.
Once Jancsi and Kata do meet everything seems perfect until each comes to realize they could never give the other what they want. Jancsi wants to go back to Budapest. He loves his homeland, and sometimes sings political songs from his youth. Kata wants to stay in France and make it as a fashion designer. One day she hopes to live in Paris. Hungary will always be a part of Jancsi. No matter where he goes or how long he is gone, he will never forget the one place he calls home. Even though most of his memories are less than perfect. Hungary has had a rather turbulent history. But Kata has moved on. While she loves her memories with Jancsi has a child, to go back home would be a step backwards for her. She has a life elsewhere.
I wonder how much of this is similar to the experience Szabo himself went through. After the revolution, Szabo stayed in Hungary. He even was blackmailed into working for the Communist. Did he ever go through the struggle these characters are going through? Do they both reflect different sides of his personality?
"Lovefilm" was Szabo's third film, coming after "Age of Illusions" and "Father". I haven't seen "Illusions" yet, but, the film does bear a resemblance to "Father" and in both films Andres Balint plays the hero. Both movies deal with people trying to find themself through their past, which will of course immediately shape their future.
"Lovefilm" also has a somewhat ironic title I thought. Just the idea of a film supposedly "about love", would lead one to think it is a happy movie. Not so in my opinion. I found the end rather bittersweet. Maybe the Beatles weren't 100% right when they said "all you need is love".
p.s. About the title of my review. In case it confused some of you, it is Hungarian for "a man and a woman". In some ways I see a connection between this film and Claude Lelouch's "A Man and A Woman".
Bottom-line: One of Istvan Szabo's great films. On the surface it is a story about young love, but, if you look deeper, it is about so much more.
Truly a film about the complexities of "love"
GavinFarrMedia | Grand Rapids, MI | 10/04/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I can't remember seeing a movies truly capture the complexities of love, outside of some melodramatic tragedies or intelligently silly comedies. "Love Film" beautifully winds together the human experience of love from childhood crushes straight through to the harsh realities of adulthood.
Set in cold-war era Hugary, then Paris, the movie chronicles the inseparable Kata and Janci. Told under a somewhat muddied flashback from Janci's perspective, we see the two children as somewhat inseparable throughout their wintertime adventures, schooling in war-time, and as little children in a Stalinist regime. The two are quite believeable as childhood sweethearts, and the set for the first and second acts is very tightly composed. The courtyard, a railing on a bridge, a streetcar and a vacant lot all act to gorund the film as the characters grow up and navigate adolescence.
Separated by political circumstances, the main focus of the plot is Janci's reuniting with an adult Kata. The reunion itself brings back a few devices from throughout the film, though a little time is spent on the tragedy of Lovers separated by the word.
Eventually, the childhood couple, through adult realities and some bitterness, end up coming to a conclusion that is as realistic as the film itself."
Homesickness, Hungarian style
J. Michel | Saint Paul, MN | 12/20/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Another terrific film by a master director, Istvan Szabo.
As the other reviewers here have noted, it's a story of two childhood friends (and later lovers) growing up in Budapest just after World War II. She leaves for France after the aborted uprising against Communist rule in 1956, but he stays behind in Hungary. Some years later, they are briefly reunited, but ultimately decided to return to the separate lives they have created.
A bittersweet love story, in other words. It's as much about both of them missing a "home" that has vanished -- and in the case of Hungary, apparently for much of the 20th century whether one stayed in that country or left it, something irreplaceable was lost either way. One of the moist poignant lines in the film is uttered by a minor character, one of the Hungarian expatriates the male lead meets in France, who says something to the effect that in his new home nobody has a clue where Budapest or Hungary might be -- and really has no interest in knowing, either.
The two lead actors are quite convincing (as are the much younger pair of actors who portray the same characters as children) and all four of their performances will linger in your mind.
I bought a copy of this film and viewed it at the same time as another more recent (2003) Hungarian film on a similar theme of separated/reunited lovers: director Karoly Makk's "A Long Weekend in Pest and Buda."
If you're up for creating your own "Mini Magyar Film Fest," try pairing these two -- the newer film features a much older romantic pair, and takes place closer to the present time, after the end of Communist rule. In the newer film, he's the one that left and she's the one who stayed behind.
Both films are available on DVD, and both can be highly recommended for anyone interested in recent Hungarian cinema and history --- or just looking for a new source of memorable foreign films of both cinematic quality and dramatic subtlety.
Dreaming of Kata ...
Erika Borsos | Gulf Coast of FL, USA | 04/08/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This film is an elegant masterpiece which poignantly captures Jancsi's attempt at mending the split relationship between Kata and himself ten years after Kata immigrated to France, sometime in the early to mid 1960s. The story is told with sensitivity and care ... What is most important about this film is how the director Istvan Szabo accurately reveals the historical and political realties of the times as the background to their lives. They grew up in Hungary, before, during, and after World War II: they survived the privations of World War II, the aftermath of living under Communism and the effects of the rebellion called "The 1956 Hungarian Revolution". The film begins as Jancsi is on a train leaving Budapest to visit Kata in France for the first time since she left Budapest. He has hope of rekindling their love. He daydreams and remincses about the past: their childhood friendship which later turned into a teenage romance and eventually an adult love relationship. The story is told naturally in flashbacks through Jancsi's memories. It is not always told in a linear fashion just as memories come forth initially as feelings then as pictures of what actually occurred. The cinematography is superb with great attention to detail which enhances the deep emotions and honest feelings that are an accurate reflection of Jancsi's Hungarian character and personality. The joys, sadness and challenges of living during those tumultous times is presented with gentleness and sensitivity throughout the film. These young people lived through modern Hungarian history: they survived the privations of World War II, the aftermath of living under Communism, and the people's rebellion called the "1956 Hungarian Revolution". There are so many memorable scenes and revealing events throughout this film that rather than describe what I saw, I will instead, advise anyone who found this review helpful go view the film for his or her self. Erika Borsos [pepper flower]