In a firm classical mold, yet with a fragmented flair in construction, director Karoly Makk has worked out a touching but never sentimental tale of three people, set in 1953, when there was some attempt to throw off the Stalinist yoke [in Hungary].
Lili Darvas, widow of playwright Ferenc Molnar, who has lived in the US for 30 years, was called back by Makk to play the dying octagenarian mother. It is a stroke of perfect casting.
Enthroned in an old house, she is demanding without being shrewish or senile. She accepts the whopping letters of her son (Ivan Darvas) making a film in America and other outlandish things her daughter-in-law (Mari Torocsik) cooks up. Whether she ever suspects anything is left ambiguous.
Torocsik’s only fragments of the past are the arrest of her husband, in prison for political matters. He is suddenly freed and comes home, during the aftermath of the death of Stalin.
Written by a leading Magyar writer, Tibor Dery [from his two short stories, Two Women and Love], this intense, subtly atmospheric film has literary insights that are well worked into a visual pattern by Makk, all handled with poise, pace and balance.