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Long Twilight

Young Magyar helmer Attila Janisch, who made the teasing "Shadow on the Snow" six years ago, comes up with another brain-twisting featurette in "Long Twilight." Based on a short story by Stateside writer Shirley Jackson, the immaculately shot yarn about an old woman who travels back to an isolated, memory-laden location plays like a Hungarian episode of "The Twilight Zone." Pic will delight those who like their movies in Chinese boxes but will turn off those in search of a bit more than nicely lensed riddles. This is ideal fest fare, with possible tube sales in Europe. Veteran actress Mari Torocsik plays an independent-minded university prof who leaves her family to travel across the countryside to visit a friend. After losing her way, she boards a bus whose driver is hostile and the other passengers mute and uninterested. Dumped at a remote gas station in the middle of the rainy night, she journeys on with a pair of equally unhelpful truckers who stop at a rough roadside inn.

Mari Torocsik, Denes Ujlaki, Imre Csuja, Gabor Mathe, Jozsef Szarvas, Janos Katona, Andras Fekete, Eva Almassy Albert

Forced to spend the night there, she boards in a bare room whose light can’t be turned off and whose cupboard contains a doll that sparks memories. After falling down the stairs in panic (and maybe dying), she wakes to find herself still on the bus, gets off, is picked up by the same truckers, and finally arrives at her family’s home, where her folks say they’ve been waiting for her.

Torocsik, still a considerable screen presence, gives her best shot at a character who’s largely reacting to stimuli that are never explained; apart from remarks like “I feel I’ve been here before,” she remains elusive. Janisch’s direction is precise in an almost story-boarded way, and camerawork, music and cutting also leave nothing to chance. Whether the whole affair adds up to more than a neat-looking hill of beans is another matter.

Pic won best director prize, and tied for best feature, at the recent Hungarian Film Week in Budapest

Long Twilight


Production: An MTV-FMS Studio, Budapest Film Studio, Eurofilm Studio production. (International sales: Eurofilm, Budapest.) Produced by Jolan Arvai, Ferenc Kardos, Peter Miskolczi. Directed by Attila Janisch. Screenplay, Andras Forgach, based on the short story "The Bus" by Shirley Jackson

Crew: Camera (color), Gabor Medvigy; editor, Anna Kornis; music, Stephan Micus, Jordi Savall, Fletcher Hender; art direction, Attila F. Kovacs; costume design, Agnes Jodal; sound (Dolby), Istvan Sipos. Reviewed at Hungarian Film Week, Budapest, Feb. 10, 1997. Running time: 68 MIN

With: Mari Torocsik, Denes Ujlaki, Imre Csuja, Gabor Mathe, Jozsef Szarvas, Janos Katona, Andras Fekete, Eva Almassy Albert

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