DOWN BY LOVE (Szerelemtol Sujtva) (director/writer: Tamás Sas; screenwriter: Can Togay; cinematographer: Elemer Ragalyi; editor: Karoly Agi; music: David Yengibarjan; cast: Patricia Kovács (Éva), Gábor Máté (Tibor), Józsa Hacser (Auntie Lenke, Eva’s neighbor), Imre Csuja (Lenke’s Son), Rita Tallós (Klára), Zsuzsa Járó (Zsuzsa); Runtime: 92; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Dénes Szekeres; Ventura Distribution/ MQM; 2003-Hungary-in Hungarian with English subtitles)
“Patricia Kovács, one of Hungary’s top young actresses, provides a special electric performance in a complex role.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Hungarian cinematographer Tamás Sas helms and co-authors this bleak but satisfying unique psychological drama about a single Budapest 24-year-old named Éva (Patricia Kovács), who works as an animator and lives alone in her arty but darkly lit claustrophobic apartment (where most of the film is set). Éva returns in a jolly mood from a holiday in Venice with her married 44-year-old lover Tibor, a noted writer and college professor. She believes her lover at last is going to ask his doctor wife Klára for a divorce and they will live together in Argentina.
How Éva got into this spellbinding relationship is brilliantly disclosed over a period of time as she stays in her apartment doing chores and exercises, answers the door to her neighbors without letting them in and makes calls on her cell phone, as we hear all her conversations but the other party always remains out of sight. She also has haunting dreams, such as the death of her parents leaving her as an orphan. Éva’s troubled life increases as she’s adopted by Tibor and Klára, raped by him at 13, sent away to a Catholic boarding school where she met her best friend Zsuzsa (who still keeps in touch and counsels her to let other men into her life), and her tale of woe continues over the years as she’s locked into a forbidden sexual relationship with her foster father Tibor–the only man she says she loves. Éva lives only for the day when Tibor can be hers alone, but he keeps breaking his promises about asking his wife for a divorce. By the time she goes over-the-edge, we clearly understand her predicament even if we still do not get the insane way she plans to resolve things.
Patricia Kovács, one of Hungary’s top young actresses, provides a special electric performance in a complex role. She’s in every shot in the film, and handles her difficult role in such a stirring and intelligent manner that she’s a joy to watch. Her characterization moves us sympathetically to her plight, as she allows us to look inside her head, feel her vulnerabilities and sickness at work. Her characterization is sure to remind viewers of Catherine Deneuve in Roman Polanski’s Repulsion. If the film had a fault, it was in the too fat script that couldn’t match the lean and beautiful visual effects, as what was said in phone talk could have just as easily have been delivered visually to better effect by such a gifted actress.
REVIEWED ON 5/19/2005 GRADE: B
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ