| Our Rating:
L Factor: Lesbian Film
Short Take: Two journalists, one of them married, fall in love under Stalinist rule in 1958 Budapest.
Alternate Titles: Egymásra nézve
Duration: 102 min
MPAA: Not Rated
|Director: Károly Makk, János Xantus
Writer: Erzsébet Galgóczi, Károly Makk
Starring: Jadwiga Jankowska-Cieslak, Ildikó Bánsági, Grazyna Szapolowska, Judit Hernádi
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Budapest, 1958. In the years after the failed Hungarian uprising, the oppressive rule of the Stalinists is stifling. For Eva (Jadwiga Jankowska-Cieslak), a journalist with a nationalist political fire, it may be worse than for most. After growing up a peasant but devoting her life to intellectual pursuits, she finally lands a job with a newspaper, despite the fact that she is also a lesbian.
Eva shares her new office with blonde and beautiful Livia (Grazyna Szapolowska), the wife of a Hungarian army officer. She’s uninhibited, with a zest for life that immediately attracts Eva, and many cigarettes and cognacs later, the two women fall in love. To do so is risky. Caught kissing one night on a park bench, police threaten Livia by telling her that they will talk to both her husband and boss, and Eva is taken off to the station.
Despite the dangers, they plan to move in with each other, even after Eva quits the paper to protest political censorship … but this is Hungary in 1958. The bleakness of life behind the Iron Curtain may be interrupted by the sparks of Eva and Livia, but the reality of this life is that such political and social non-conformity is suppressed. The results are tragic for both women.
Jankowska-Cieslak won the award for best actress at the Cannes Film Festival, where writer/director Károly Makk also won a special award. Although the film does not have a happy ending for the two women, it’s quite fitting that it does not. Part of the value in watching this is feeling a politically repressive world, seeing how it stifles those who dare to think or act out of bounds. (AB)