A LONG WEEKEND IN PEST AND BUDA is an uneven if occasionally striking movie. However, beyond that, it is a challenging exercise for some of us long term movie goers.
Makk and his stars were the hot tickets on the film festival circuit in the Fifties - not that we got to see all that much of their work - HOUSE UNDER THE ROCKS, MERRY GO ROUND, Sunday ROMANCE. We occasionally glimpsed them subsequently or, more likely, heard about them.It however comes as a surprise to realise they are still active and have been working solidly over the half century during which we lost track.
This is what the viewing pivots on, whether intentionally or not. Black and white images from MERRY GO ROUND among other films of the early period are used to simulate Törõcsik and Darvas' romance in the old Communist days. The plot outlines their characters' subsequent lives, with him having moved to Switzerland, after being thrown into jail for the support he gave his first mentor, who he found running the state oil industry from the prison, because he was the only one capable of organizing such a capitalist enterprise.
Turns out Mari shopped him to something called the AVO (no, not apprehended violence order)and hit the sack with the police agent on the case. Now she's in a terminal ward and wants to see him before she dies - and wait! There's more.
Whether this is the intended effect, it plays remarkably well with the outside audience as the mix of recognition and fiction rings in their memories with an awareness of the country's history.
The city and surroundings of Budapest, which Darvas sees again, add resonance. On top of this, several other elements have been piled less successfully. The chaotic society he encounters, venal medical staff, trigger happy policemen, lawless graffiti covered streets and barmen who demand his watch when he presents a credit card, is not all than convincing and that the sub-plot with Nagy-Kálózy doesn't really play, is probably not the fault of the actress. Törõcsik on the other hand has developed immense presence as an actress. Her final face cream scene alone is a formidable piece of acting.
More than anything else, you leave this film wondering about the three figure total of films these people have run up without us having access to them.
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