311. Of Body And Soul

★★★

Despite what its brightly-lit frames may tell you, “Of Body and Soul” is a movie not so much about sight as it is about touch. Director Ildikó Enyedi paints intimacy not on a canvas but showing us the hand holding the brush. It’s a movie we feel innately intimate with, as much a part of these characters’ tragic reality as we are their beloved dreams.

The movie focuses on two characters: Endre, an apathetic, middle-aged executive at a slaughterhouse, and Mária, a younger, well-intentioned but socially inept employee who joins his team. After a psychologist is brought to their office to perform evaluations on each of the employees, Endre and Mária discover that they’ve been sharing the same dreams, each of them as deer, enjoying each other’s warm comfort in the hazy, midnight sun.

It’s an interesting depiction of a non-romance, an examination of intimacy that relies on one perceiving the imagined to be real. They clearly share a connection beyond this reality but they are unable to act upon it, either because of fear of what employees at the slaughterhouse will think of Endre, or because of Mária’s inability to perceive things in what would be a normal way compared to others. Through this conundrum, of a blossoming romance between two flowers with no petals, Ildikó Enyedi conveys his most thought-provoking themes, and captures our attention the most.

At other times, the film borders on complete boredom, so soft-spoken that we often risk not hearing the emotional nuance of its central characters. Every frame is painted with rich symbolism and symmetry but often times the movie feels like a mixed metaphor, making the endeavor as pointless as a colorblind person trying to solve a rubik’s cube.

But the dedicated performances of Géza Morcsányi as Endre and Alexandra Borbély as Mária still elevate this movie to must-watch material. It’s a slow burn, with a few brief slaughterhouse scenes that aren’t for the faint of heart or stomach, but its a rewarding cinematic experience, touching your mind as much as your heart.

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