More interesting for its portrait of the new Central Europe than as a fully realized movie, "Last Seen Wearing a Blue Skirt..." is a potentially live-wire drama that has its moments but leaves one wanting much more. Based on a true story, pic about a teenage girl who's abducted and raped by itinerant truckers looks destined for Eurowebs rather than bigscreen outings. Bea (Reka Farkashazi) is a cute, well-brought-up 15-year-old in a denim miniskirt who's abducted in broad daylight by some Albanian truck drivers, assaulted, and stashed naked in the back of their cab. Her parents Sandor (Gyorgy Cserhalmi) and Eva (Erika Ozsda) initiate their own search throughout Budapest, helped by a wise old retired cop (Laszlo Zsolt).

However, Sandor, an entrepreneurial type, has his own problems: He owes 1 million forints to a hard-nosed mobster and is running late on his payments. In one of several unlikely turns to the yarn, the aforementioned mobster turns soft and offers his help in tracking down Bea. Meanwhile, the Albanians are heading south out of the country, renting out Bea as a piece of live meat in the back of their truck.

In its early stages, the movie sets up several intriguing strands: The trauma of the middle-class teen faced with events she can’t comprehend; the weak “new businessman” type Sandor; modern-day Hungary as a crossroads in Central Europe; and the need for individuals to solve their problems without recourse to law and order. But most receive only token development, with Bea herself (as well as the animals who’ve abducted her) remaining cipherlike to the end.

Particularly distracting are the scenes between Sandor and the mobster, which hold up the dramatic momentum and play far too theatrically amid the surrounding realism. Overall, there’s little sustained tension to drive the story forward, and pic falls short of director Pal Erdoss’ socially grounded dramas “The Princess,” “Countdown” and “A Light-Sensitive Story.”

Performances are functional to OK. Tech credits are good, with lenser Ferenc Pap hitting his stride in the exterior scenes set on the truck-filled highways. Pic’s Hungarian title roughly translates as “Murderous Mood.”

Last Seen Wearing a Blue Skirt ...

Hungarian

Production

A Mafilm, Hetfoi Muhely Studio Alapitvany production. (International sales: Hungarofilm, Budapest.) Produced by Gyorgy Marosi, Istvan Kardos. Directed by Pal Erdoss. Screenplay, Istvan Kardos.

Crew

Camera (color), Ferenc Pap; editor, Klara Majoros; music, Janos Masik; sound (Dolby), Istvan Sipos. Reviewed at Hungarian Film Week, Budapest, Feb. 9, 1997. Running time: 81 MIN.

With

Gyorgy Cserhalmi, Erika Ozsda, Reka Farkashazi, Laszlo Zsolt, Djordje Rosic, Janos Derzsi, Antal Cserna.
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