Review: ‘Stracciatella’

A famous symphony conductor falls to pieces and for his shrink in "Stracciatella," an entertaining, neatly played romantic drama with an ironic edge. Though the musical profession is a well-mined one for personal crises ("Interlude," "The Conductor," etc.), popular Magyar actor Andras Kern, making his writing-directing debut, draws good perfs from his strong cast and seasons familiar fare with a quizzical slant. Offshore sales could result.

A famous symphony conductor falls to pieces and for his shrink in “Stracciatella,” an entertaining, neatly played romantic drama with an ironic edge. Though the musical profession is a well-mined one for personal crises (“Interlude,” “The Conductor,” etc.), popular Magyar actor Andras Kern, making his writing-directing debut, draws good perfs from his strong cast and seasons familiar fare with a quizzical slant. Offshore sales could result.

Kern plays well-known batonist Lantos, resettled in Hungary, who’s gradually losing his self-confidence and isn’t helped by the professional success of his dentist wife (Dorottya Udvaros), who’s also involved in an affair. Hospitalized with a nervous breakdown in the middle of rehearsing Beethoven’s Violin Concerto , he comes under the supervision of a coolly clinical psychiatrist, Andrea Novak (Eniko Eszenyi).

After skipping hospital to return to rehearsals, whence he’s followed by Andrea, Lantos sparks her interest, finally consummated in a funny and sexy nighttime sequence of oral sex in an automobile. The return of Andrea’s tolerant husband (Gabor Reviczky) doesn’t impede their growing romance, which results in Andrea’s suspension. Inevitably, the time comes when the chronically indecisive, boyishly irresponsible Lantos has to decide between his two women.

For Hungarian audiences, the occasional voiceovers by Kern are given an extra dimension by the fact that he regularly dubs Woody Allen’s voice in Hungary. Though the script never pretends to match the Woodman’s ironic take on relationships, the pic has a detached view of events that prevents the otherwise straightforward famous-artist-with-a-mistress plotline from becoming stale.

Kern also draws fine playing from the chameleon Eszenyi, here in a very controlled role, as well as from sparky veteran Udvaros. One sequence, in which Eszenyi checks in as Udvaros’ patient to find out more about Kern, is a wonderfully timed comic set piece, if dramatically silly.

Throughout the pic, music is well deployed, both from the Beethoven concerto and the catchy song “Awakening.” Photography by ace cameraman Elemer Ragalyi is consistently good-looking, and other technical credits reliable.

Stracciatella

(HUNGARIAN)

Production

A Budapest Film release (in Hungary) of an Objektiv Studio/Intent production. (International sales: S-media 2000, Budapest.) Produced by Janos Rozsa, Gabor Princz, Pal Traub. Directed, written by Andras Kern.

Crew

Camera (color), Elemer Ragalyi; editor, Anna Kornis; music, Gabor Presser; art direction, Jozsef Romvari; costume design , Janos Breckl; sound (Dolby), Istvan Sipos. Reviewed at Hungarian Film Week, Budapest, Feb. 11, 1996. Running time: 102 MIN.

With

With: Andras Kern, Eniko Eszenyi, Dorottya Udvaros, Gabor Reviczky, Gyula Benko, Nora Tabori.
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