On Body and Soul review – bizarre and brutal tale of lovers in the slaughterhouse

the Guardian | 9/22/2017 | Peter Bradshaw


On Body and Soul is an urban pastoral. It’s a love story that unfolds both in a secret inner dreamscape and an outer world of ostensible normality – which is actually far more comically irrational. This duality could be the one hinted at in the title. But which is body and which soul? Where do we assume the spirituality and physicality are located? It’s not entirely clear.

The Hungarian film-maker Ildikó Enyedi won the Golden Bear in Berlin this year for this film, perhaps her most notable success since winning the Camera d’Or at Cannes in 1989 for My Twentieth Century, about identical twin sisters heading for an appointment with destiny and modernity aboard the Orient Express. This movie has the same playfully unexpected sensuality that My Twentieth Century was praised for. Its eroticism has something of the Czech author Milan Kundera.

Premise - Film - Opening - Sequences - Butcher

The premise of the film and its unwatchably brutal opening sequences are there to stun you, or in the butcher’s sense tenderise you, so that you hardly notice the implausible weirdness of human behaviour in the workplace scenes that follow. The setting is a slaughterhouse, and we see some explicit shots of animals being chopped up, and part of what we must absorb is the everyday paradox of commercial violence, which is extreme and yet entirely routine. It happens behind the backs of carnivore city-dwellers who might prefer not to know where their food comes from.

Endre (Géza Morcsányi) is the manager, a middle-aged man with a disabled arm and a drolly observant manner. His only friend, so far as this prickly and solitary man has friends, is HR supervisor Jenö (Zoltán Schneider), a beefy and hassled guy, forever being chivvied by his co-worker wife Zsuzsa (Zsuzsa Járó) with whom Endre once had a brief relationship. Endre’s eye is caught by...
(Excerpt) Read more at: the Guardian
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