Strongly rooted in the characters of four young working people in the Big City, writer-helmer Agnes Incze's first feature, "I Love Budapest," has a natural and casual charm that stays well clear of whimsicality.
Strongly rooted in the characters of four young working people in the Big City, writer-helmer Agnes Incze’s first feature, “I Love Budapest,” has a natural and casual charm that stays well clear of whimsicality. Reminiscent of Marta Meszaros’ very early movies centered on factory women, especially the 1970 “Don’t Cry, Pretty Girls,” this reps a very promising debut by 45-year-old Incze, and one given extra freshness by its fine young lead, Gabriella Hamori.
Aniko (Hamori) is a shy dreamer from the countryside who comes to stay with her friend, Molni (Martina Kovacs), in Budapest, where she gets a job in a factory. The two girls chat about men and sex and so on, and one night, alone in the apartment, Aniko encounters Miki (Sandor Csanyi), a handsome security guard.
The three soon form a social group along with Molni’s b.f., Kristian (Tamas Lengyel), who deals drugs. Miki says he’d be interested in working for him, and that’s where the trouble starts.
The story itself is nothing new, but Incze manages to ground it in a very recognizable reality without descending into grungy drama. Scenes among Aniko’s workmates at the factory have a rough-and-ready vitality, despite the drabness of the setting. And the script manages to throw a few curve balls just when the viewer thinks everything is settled.
Hamori is excellent as Aniko, though it’s Csanyi, as the rather-too-perfect Miki, who keeps the pic on its dramatic toes. For all his swagger, Miki hasn’t exactly got all his oars in the water, and Csanyi gives the role a discreetly klutzy charm plus a sense of unease.
Tech credits are good, with no surplus gloss, and the running time is admirably tight.