Reviewed at Hungarian Film Week, Budapest, Feb. 8, 1994. Running time:59 MIN.
This Magyar variation on the “Green Card”/”Wedding Banquet” theme is a touching romantic comedy-drama well suited to the small screen because of its brief running time (though it unspooled on 35mm at the review screening.)
Director Janos Szombolyai tackled the subject before in “Duty Free Marriage” (1981) and doesn’t have a great deal to add this time around, though attractive performances are a plus.
The story’s set in 1989; the communist era is coming to an end in Hungary, but neighboring Romania is still under a strict dictatorship. A dying old woman leaves her apartment to a young man (Jozsef Toth) on condition he marry her Romanian niece so that she can legally come to live in Hungary.
Trouble is, Toth is engaged to, and very much in love with, another woman (Edit Vlahovics). But he agrees to the arrangement, and Vlahovics even accompanies him to Romania and acts as witness at his wedding to beautiful Eszter Nagy-Kalozy.
After some tense scenes with the Romanian security police — especially an officer who seems sexually attracted to both women — the trio is allowed to cross back into Hungary. The evolving triangular relationship is based on real-life experiences, per the director, who appears on camera at the end to assert that this is a true story.