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António da Cunha Telles
Étienne is an old man who refuses to leave his home because he is convinced that the spirits of his wife and daughter still live there. Nevertheless, the apartment's owner will try to throw him away by any means.
Budapest in the thirties. The restaurant owner Laszlo hires the pianist András to play in his restaurant. Both men fall in love with the beautiful waitress Ilona who inspires András to his only composition. His song of Gloomy Sunday is, at first, loved and then feared, for its melancholic melody triggers off a chain of suicides. The fragile balance of the erotic ménage à trois is sent off kilter when the German Hans goes and falls in love with Ilona as well. Written by
Fact and fiction combine to provide a delightfully entertaining film about a restaurant in Budapest. Clientele flocked there for the good food, the good music and I daresay the beautiful Ilona who served on the tables. What more could one wish for? Unfortunately the good times do come to an end when the Nazis sweep into Hungary and decide forthwith to eliminate the Jewish population.
Strange as it may seem the whole theme of the film revolves around a plaintive tune which first gained popularity in Budapest, later in Europe and then the whole world. The words to the song called "Gloomy Sunday" are full of despair.
The clients who came to the restaurant always asked for this particular melody to be played on the grand piano. It is played many times during the film. It is haunting and addictive. We find ourselves wanting to hear it again and again such is its hypnotic power.
All praise to Erika Marozsan who provides the romantic interest as Ilona in the story. I am told she is a newcomer to the screen, but as an actor she will surely be much sought after in the future. She is beautiful and her close-ups full of feeling. She has lovely hands that caress a lover's face with such gentle charm. She is much admired by Lazlo (Joachim Krol) owner of the restaurant and also by Andras (Stefano Dionisi) newly appointed pianist and composer of "Gloomy Sunday".
All goes well for the threesome until the arrival of a Nazi officer (Ben Becker) who takes a fancy to Ilona despite her constant rebuttals. In their position of power Nazis have the means of disposing of people who stand in their way.
This is a film of contrasts. First we have the beautiful setting which is Budapest, romantic songs and people in love. Then we have the Nazi occupation, loss of freedom and threats of Auschwitz.
This film must be seen to the end. There is an amazing twist of Fate in the last few minutes and it seems to me that at last in some remarkable way justice is seen to be done.
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