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Monday, February 26, 2018

On Body and Soul

The first of this year's Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film I've gotten a chance to see is Hungary's On Body and Soul, a charming and offbeat romance bringing love to two people who never thought it would happen.

Set in a slaughterhouse, Géza Morcsányi plays the CFO. He notices a new inspector has been hired. She is played by Alexandra Borbely. She is standoffish and exact--giving B ratings to beef because they exceed fat standards by two millimeters.

The CFO attempts to make her feel at home, but she doesn't really respond. It is clear to anyone in the audience that she is on the autism spectrum, especially when we see her at home. Oddly, this is never mentioned in the film.

A theft at the plant brings in a psychologist to interview the employees. It is then that the two realize they are having the same dream--they are two deer in a forest (the scenes of these deer in the snowy woods are breathtakingly beautiful). They are both intrigued by this, and are drawn to each other, despite the vast difference in their ages (another thing that isn't mentioned). The CFO also has an affliction--his left arm is useless (no reason is given), and he says he is out of the love game, preferring to spend his evenings alone watching sports.

Borbely decides she is going to catch this man, and it's drolly humorous as she goes about this. She gets advice on how to dress sexily and impassively watches porn, but Morcsányi decides they should just be friends. This causes Borbely to take a drastic action, but she is saved by a well-timed phone call.

Amazingly, this is Morcsányi's film debut (he is active in Hungary's theater scene). He is very good, though he kept reminding me of Ray Romano. Borbely won the European Film Award for Best Actress for this role.

The film was written and directed by Ildikó Enyedi, and if I could ask her a question it would be why a slaughterhouse? There are scenes, in which you may watch through your fingers, of cows being murdered and then hung by their hoof and skinned. It may put you off of red meat for a while. I failed to see the connection to the story. There may not be one, but the scenes are so gratuitous that there had to be some meaning. Maybe Enyedi is a vegetarian activist.

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