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Film Review: On Body and Soul (Testról és lélekröl)
by Shelly Schoeneshoefer

Ildikó Enyedi, Hungary

Based on poetry, Hungarian film director Ildiko Enyedi’s debut film touches on the idea of soulmates.It is an unusual love story which won the Golden Bear as best picture. The film quietly introduces us to two people who live in their own private space and slowly are awakened to the existence of feelings and desires that were completely foreign to them. It is a journey in which they discover desire in their dreams and their emotions are awakened in the physical realm.

At first we see two deer in the forest and clearly there seems to be some chemistry between the two. The next setting is a slaughterhouse in Budapest where we meet the quiet boss Endre (Geza Morcsányi) who stays mostly out of the way of his employees. But the quality control personal has been replaced by a young woman Maria (Alexandra Borbély), who seems to have the need to have her surrounding environment completely under control and very exact. It may be that she has Asperger syndrome but it is not entirely clear. What is clear is that she never forgets exactly what people say, including data and numbers. Although the group tries to interact with her, she keeps them at an arm’s length. Still, she does role playing at home and sees a therapist. The tension rises due to Maria’s accurate counting, so Endre tries to uphold contact with her in order to bring peace to the work environment. It isn’t until some drugs are stolen and an investigation takes place to find out who is responsible for the theft, that they find out they have something in common.

At the Berlinale press conference Enyedi said that the idea came to her very quickly and was evoked from poetry that she had been reading. She also said she was lucky to find a fantastic animal trainer Zoltan Horkai. He laughed and said that, normally, you train female animals and begin when they are young, He didn’t ever dream that Enyedi would show up with a 12-year-old male buck and said this is the one that looks the most like Endre. The nature scenes took almost another year to complete because of the animals and the weather. They were so beautifully filmed that I thought they had to be computerized, but this film is about real feeling and emotion, so I was thrilled to hear that they took the time and effort to do it right. We are so caught up in these instruments of technology that it feels as though we have forgotten how to communicate and connect to each other. The film also reminds us where food comes from and that we should honor those animals that provide our food.