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"On Body and Soul" Wonderland
Are you tired with mainstream love stories?
Do you appreciate movies that are not always easy on the eye? Then you, definitely, need to see the Hungarian drama "On Body and Soul". It is a story about love and companionship between two very different but, at the same time, somehow similar, people. Ildikó Enyedi has really made a difference as a writer and as a director.Raw but, also, very romantic, the film is worth watching for many reasons.
The plot & the characters
The story takes place in a slaughterhouse where two co-workers face a very bizarre coincidence.Endre,the manager, is a middle-aged man with a disabled arm (unknown why). He seems distant and bored with his life until he meets Mária, the new hygiene inspector. Although it is not stated clearly in the film, Mária possibly has the Asperger's or, at least, Asperger mannerisms , and she shows extreme difficulty in communicating with others and understanding people's feelings and behavior. Due to an accidental event at their workplace,the main characters face a very strange fact;They share the same dream every single night.They are both deer who live in the forest and they, also, have an affair, in their animal form. As suspected, this unique bond, which unravels every night, leads them to fall in love and start a very eccentric relationship in their real life, too.
But what makes this movie so different than the others?
First of all, the relationship between Endre and Mária is not a common love story. On the contrary, their affair is mostly complicated and uncomfortable. They try hard to connect but it seems very difficult in the daylight. In the world of their dreams they are very intimate and they truly communicate but, when it comes to reality, things are different. As they are both introverted people, they feel more free in the safe environment of the dreams to approach one another than in the office. This movie is very realistic because it shows that love is not always enough. Relationships are mostly hard work and effort in a daily basis.
Secondly,what is absolutely beautiful in this film is the shots; In a clever pair of opposites we appreciate the gorgeous lake with the deer and, in the next minute, we are shocked by the brutal scenes at the slaughterhouse. Green and nature in comparison with the dull office, free and proud animals in comparison with dead ones. The viewer will feel many times uncomfortable with the ruthless food production and the way animals are killed like it is no big deal. Fortunately, the magic of the dream world is exactly what is needed in order to regain the balance.
Furthermore,the film shows the difficulties a person with Asperger's faces in communicating with other people and how the latter wrongly misjudge them for that. Mária is presented as a woman who has strong feelings but can not express them clearly.She is in love but can not show it to Endre and she even needs to prepare for future conversations with him. We see her rehearse what she will say to him the following day and gets puzzled every time he answers something anticipated.This is a common characteristic for people with Asperger's. People consider them to be hard and unable to feel anything just because they can not express their feelings in the right way or recognize them in others. For example, Mária can not tell if Endre is mad at her if he does not tell her directly. She is unable to read his body language,expressions or other signs and needs to be informed about what is going on.
Last but not least, the symbolism is very accurate and the metaphors very strong. Reality has limitations and we are all trapped in our bodies. Only in dreams we are truly free to be ourselves and do what we actually desire.Dreamworld is the place for the soul and the fantasies. There we can be happy and authentic. We do not need to patronize ourselves in order to be accepted by others, we are free.
To sum up
All in all, On Body and Soul is an excellent drama which leaves the viewer with a lot to think about. It is a film which is likely to be remembered and has a wide appeal. I feel that we can expect many more precious films from this writer in the future.
© 2018 Olga Kimiskidou