I Love Budapest: Bright light &c.

[Screenshot]I’m slowly exhausting Netflix’s selection of Hungarian cinema, and I’ve got to say, the experiment has not been an overwhelming success. Part of this is that Hungarian cinema has received a pretty lukewarm reception on these shores, so even when it’s good, its transition to DVD is usually rather shoddy. Definitely I Love Budapest suffers from this: a really rough interlace which renders fast motion a mess, and burned-in subtitles (the screenshot above is one of the cleanest frames I can get from the film). But enough with technical details—Kontroll suffered from these as well, and I’m still glad to own a copy—is I Love Budapest actually any damn good?

Not really, is my answer. It’s a mundane slice-of-life with an unexplained deus ex machina fantastic ending. Pretty much none of the characters are sympathetic. One might judge it a testament to the strength of a director’s art to make completely unsympathetic characters, but then we see something like Annikó visiting her mother to make her just human enough that we can’t actually dislike her. But none of the characters really induce an emotional response. The men are wrapped up in stipid deals with power and money and drugs, and the women are vicious snakes who never seem to give a damn about much of anything other than bagging a “cool guy” (and why? they don’t seem to care much about their mates’ attractiveness or sexual proficiency; they don’t get money or expensive gifts; and they never hang out with other girls to whom they can brag about their “cool boyfriend”; and all this trouble for basically abusive men). So when things happen to them (which they don’t very often; actually, awfully little happens even for a film this short), why should I care?

On technical details: It’s hard to judge the actual film quality, since this particular DVD release is so shitty. The camerawork is actually pretty appropriately dark-urban, but fails to make the city feel real: then again, clubs and bars aren’t the “real city” to me anyways. The music is dull and repetitive: Ágnes Incze managed to score Anima Sound System to do ambient music for her film Közel a szerelemhez, but decided to go with the more popular but less skilled (in my opinion) Yonderboi for this one.

Two final notes about the title: the international title of this film is actually I Love Budapest, or perhaps I ♥ Budapest. Móni’s letter includes the phrase in English for some reason. In particular, this is a different film from István Szabó’s similarly-named but earlier and probably better Budapest, amiért szeretem.

See also: IMDB.

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About Jake
I'm a mathematics professor at the University of Louisville, and a geek.

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