On Body and Soul

Writer/Director Ildikó Enyedi

Hungary’s Best Foreign Language Oscar nomination is a delicate romance with slightly dark undertones and a magical element, that is well written and directed by Ms. Enyedi. I was quickly involved by the story and characters, and especially like the work of Alexandra Borbély as Mária and Géza Morcsányi as Endre.

Each character is ‘crippled’ – Endre has a withered left arm, and Mária has deeply rooted psychological issues which limit her social skills, though we never learn the source of each person’s disability. Their romance is catalyzed when they learn they have been having the same dreams where each are deer in a winter forest – how that is possible is also never explained. The forest scenes are gorgeously shot and crafted, and are the bedrock of the film’s tone. Add to the mix that the characters work in a slaughterhouse – all clean floors, mechanized processes and lots of blood – and the oddness abounds.

There is plenty of droll humor and a real sense of community about the factory workers, which kind of has everybody in each others business. The final scenes caught me a bit off guard but weren’t out of context, and left me pondering about the future of these two people. I liked it overall and it’s a Should See, even though other nominees in this category I like more.

Relatable Reviews

  • Kenneth Turan in the LA Times gave the highest marks, and although he liked it much more than I did, I appreciate his perspective.“In dreams begin responsibility, the poet W.B. Yeats famously said, but could romance begin there as well? Hungary’s dazzling “On Body and Soul,” one of the year’s most justifiably celebrated foreign-language films, takes that delicate concept and uses it to cast a singularly intoxicating spell.”