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
I did not necessarily expect this to be a real good movie. Stories taking place during the Nazi regime and WW2, especially when made by Germans, sometimes tend to be ultra-politically-correct. But, surprise, surprise. Rolf Schübel's first feature (he did documentaries before) uses backdrop of Nazi-occupied Budapest to deliver a meaningful "menage-a-quatre", wrapped in a free interpretation of creation of famous suicide hymn "Gloomy Sunday". Fine acting all over the place, especially by Krol and Becker (still brave in German moviemaking to show a Nazi not as a complete monster, even if he is, after all, the bad guy), and despite the overall sad story executed surprisingly lighthanded. Drama, a touch of humor, some suspense and even some sex (however, the latter seems to be unnecessary sometimes - it would have worked without or with less). Not to be forgotten: excellent soundtrack album, including several versions of "Gloomy Sunday". Definitely one of the best German movies of 1999.
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