26 September 2023

Preparations to be Together for an Unknown Period of Time

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Reviewed by Rama Gaind.

Director: Lili Horvát, Pivot Pictures.

The title may feel cumbersome with Preparations to Be Together for an Unknown Period of Time, but the focus of attention looks at the essence of love with creditable lucidity.

With echoes of Leo McCarey’s 1957 An Affair to Remember, traditional romantic dénouements are renounced in this subdued psychological thriller from Hungary. There are, however, some features with interesting character dynamics.

After two decades in the United States, a Hungarian neurosurgeon Vizy Márta (Natasa Stork), returns to Budapest for a romantic rendezvous with a fellow doctor Drexler János (Viktor Bodó). They had met at a New Jersey conference.

After he fails to show up at the appointed hour on Budapest’s Liberty Bridge, she tracks him down: only to have the bewildered man claim he had never seen her before.

Márta, a 40-year-old was working in a world-leading brain clinic, and had a brilliant career, but leaves it behind when she falls in love. On the other hand, János doesn’t recollect ever meeting her.

Now the brain surgeon begins to worry about whether her recent romance may be one big misapprehension. She becomes obsessed with wanting to find out the meaning behind János’ dismissal. Was it a treachery on his part because it felt cruel or was it an ailment just distressing her. To investigate further, she arranges to live and work as close to him as possible.

For the most part, Stork displays an impassive expression as a means to shield her inner self. The inscrutable stance gives impetus to engage us, as the twists and turns are slowly disclosed.

Histrionics see the filmmaker engaging in a remarkable whirl, teetering on the edge, sandwiched between truth and fantasy. Perhaps, that is an aberration.

We are taken down perplexing roads by writer-director Lili Horvát’s tantalising psychological drama, whereby, we get to study someone who knows ‘how the brain works but not the heart’.

The melodrama’s sardonicism-saturated ending is exemplary: high-spirited and perturbing. Intrigue follows in a graceful game of cat-and-mouse that stealthily mesmerises!

  • Preparations to be Together for an Unknown Period of Time opens in cinemas on 17 March 2022

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