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Film…

After a rather unnecessary prologue, which segues from black-and-white to color as a narrator sets the scene, film proper begins in the apartment of an elderly, long-married couple, beautifully portrayed by Magyar vets Ivan Darvas and Hedi Temessy. The wife makes her husband tea before they go for a walk in the park, visit a cafe, sit for a while on a bench and then head for home --- a trip interrupted by a sudden heart attack that strikes down the old man.

After a rather unnecessary prologue, which segues from black-and-white to color as a narrator sets the scene, film proper begins in the apartment of an elderly, long-married couple, beautifully portrayed by Magyar vets Ivan Darvas and Hedi Temessy. The wife makes her husband tea before they go for a walk in the park, visit a cafe, sit for a while on a bench and then head for home — a trip interrupted by a sudden heart attack that strikes down the old man.

During this brief period of time, they say little to each other (there’s some talk about a dead son, and the wife has to correct her husband when he wrongly remembers the color of the son’s eyes) — and yet the fine actors convey volumes about a lifetime spent in one another’s company.

Peripheral characters are introduced who obliquely touch the lives of the central couple, notably a teenager who takes his girlfriend to a room in the house he says his grandparents once owned (they may be the old couple, but this isn’t spelled out), and the boy’s mother, a telephone operator who receives a call from a man seeking a woman he hasn’t seen for 20 years — presumably, this is the teenager’s father.

The film’s bookends could be disposed of to advantage, but otherwise this gentle, poetic film, with its beautifully framed and lit images and its haunting , jazzy soundtrack (mostly sax, clarinet and cello) provides a small but very satisfying experience.

Film…

(HUNGARY)

  • Production: A Filmplus production, in association with MMK, ORTT, TV2. Produced by Gabor Varga, Zsuzsanna G. Hollosi. Directed by Andras Suranyi. Screenplay, Suranyi, Ilona Nagy, Miklos Meszoly.
  • Crew: Camera (color/B&W), Istvan Borbas; editor, Andras Suranyi; music, Karoly Binder; production designer, Istvan Galambos; costume designer, Edit Koszegi, Katalin Imrey; sound, Laszlo Hegedus; assistant director, Tibor Horvath. Reviewed at Hungarian Film Week, Budapest, Feb. 4, 2000. Running time: 84 MIN.
  • With: Old Man ..... Ivan Darvas Old Woman ..... Hedi Temessy With: Peter Haumann, Juli Basti, Andras Balint, Tamas Vegvari, Lili Monori. A deceptively simple, emotionally enriching picture about the last day in the life of an elderly man, this contemplation on mortality deserves slots at festivals, with programming on bolder Euro TV channels also indicated. A particularly strong cast of fine Hungarian actors has been employed to tell a universal story in "Film... ."
  • Music By: