23 March 2010

Prima Primavera (János Edelényi, 2008, Hungary)

Gabor is a fifty-something year old son of a Holocaust survivor. It's hard to tell if he's retarded, autistic, or if he just hasn't recovered from a painful event in his childhood. The movie starts with him and his mother in a beautiful cemetery next to a jail. He's lost and doesn't remember that the pine trees were cut down twenty years ago. The scene is a great example of the cinematography throughout. The shots are beautiful, if a little grainy or a little off in the coloring or a little too obviously digital. I found myself thinking in this movie that if there is a trade off of some technical aspects in exchange for a greater diversity in world cinema that means more lovely movies like this one then bring it on. The story gets going when Gabor and his mother go to the bank with their lawyer so Gabor can sign some papers that seem to relate to his inheritance, though he doesn't seem to be following what's going on, perhaps because he can't cope with the possibility of his mother's death, although while I was watching it I just found myself wondering if he was more seriously retarded than I had anticipated based on the description. Suddenly the bank gets robbed, Gabor intercedes in a way that makes things go terribly wrong but he ends up seeing the face of the gunman. Naturally, the gunman wants Gabor out of the way. He also wants the getaway driver out of the way, a prostitute who seems to have been the girlfriend of the robber who dies in the bank robbery. The dutch gunman enlists the prostitute, Joli, to help neutralize Gabor but they get away and go on the run. He tells her they can stay at his grandmother's house in Serbia and their adventure begins. I can see how some people might come up with some criticisms for this movie but I found it really winning. I could see someone calling parts of it cheesy but it all really worked for me. There were a number shots in the movie that were really lovely and I thought the story mostly worked through the whole thing, although the guy who plays the dutch gangster is a little broadly drawn and not acted as well as he might have been. It was a good time at the movies. I'd watch it again. This is another one of the movies at this festival that might inspire me to want to visit the countries depicted. I'm putting a bunch of pictures here and there are a few more on the website, which does a pretty good job of representing the film, I think. I enjoyed parts of the director's statement. B+

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