My bloody valen­tine

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FILM REVIEWS - ON BODY AND SOUL TARA BRADY

Directed by Ildikó Enyedi. Star­ring Alexan­dra Bor­bély, Géza Morc­sányi, Réka Tenki, Zoltán Schneider, Ervin Nagy, Itala Békés. Club, Ac­cess Cin­ema, 116mins This mar­vel­lous, off­beat ro­mance, a de­serv­ing win­ner of this year’s Golden Bear and a po­ten­tially per­fect dou­ble-bill pair­ing with Paul Thomas Anderson’s Punch Drunk Love, opens with a gor­geous Christ­mas-card tableau in which a stag and a doe wan­der through a snowy for­est.

Th­ese ro­man­tic an­i­mals have lit­tle or noth­ing in com­mon with the un­for­tu­nate cat­tle that are pro­cessed through the slaugh­ter­house where soul­ful En­dre ( Morc­sányi) is the fi­nan­cial di­rec­tor. Or do they?

One day, while star­ing out at the court­yard where fel­low em­ploy­ees smoke and chat, En­dre is in­stantly drawn to Maria (Bor­bély), the new abat­toir doc­tor. She is much younger than he, but that is the least of the many im­ped­i­ments that will come be­tween them. Maria, we soon sur­mise, is on the high-func­tion­ing end of the autis­tic spec­trum. She has is­sues with tone and needs to prac­tise con­ver­sa­tions at home us­ing the salt and pep­per set or some­times Play­mo­bil fig­ures. She has to re­mind her­self to main­tain eye con­tact. She hates to be touched. And she keeps on grad­ing the meat too harshly.

Still, when the po­lice ar­rive at the slaugh­ter­house to in­ves­ti­gate a theft, a hi­lar­i­ously foxy in­ves­ti­gat­ing psy­chi­a­trist makes the strangest dis­cov­ery, one that seems to mark En­dre and Maria out as soul­mates.

Stay tuned for Laura Mar­ling, pornog­ra­phy, and new uses for mashed potato, as writer-di­rec­tor Ildikó Enyedi mines pe­cu­liarly fe­male aloof­ness for both com­edy and sad­ness. Máté Her­bai’s airy and sunny cin­e­matog­ra­phy en­livens darker nar­ra­tive nooks. Bor­bély makes for an un­con­ven­tional but en­tirely con­vinc­ing ro­man­tic hero. But it’s Géza Morc­sányi’s in­ven­tive wide-eyed turn that steals the show.

An equally in­no­va­tive screen­play snakes be­tween crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion, light magic re­al­ism, rom-com, graphic de­pic­tions of bovine death and the lives of wilder, hap­pier ru­mi­nants.

And they say work­place ro­mances are a bad idea.

Odd cou­ple: Géza Morc­sányi and Alexan­dra Bor­bély

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