© Alamode Film/Filmagentinnen

Körper und Seele (On Body and Soul, Teströl és lélekröl)
Hungary 2017

Opening 21 Sep 2017

Directed by: Ildikó Enyedi
Writing credits: Ildikó Enyedi
Principal actors: Géza Morcsányi, Alexandra Borbély, Zoltán Schneider, Ervin Nagy, Tamás Jordán

Endre (Géza Morcsányi) works as a financial director at a slaughterhouse, but at night he dreams he is a stag walking in an untouched forest. He is joined in his dreams by a beautiful doe, and they begin a relationship of sorts. Back in the slaughterhouse, a new quality control inspector, Mária (Alexandra Borbély), is a woman apart. She prefers sterility, sits alone in the cantina, and doesn’t really fit in with the rest of the workers. Soon Endre and Mária discover that not only do they share a spiritual kinship in life, but they are also inexplicably sharing dreams. Will they be able to find the same peace in life as they find while asleep?

The winner of the Golden Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival, On Body and Soul is a quiet, languid film about soul mates and two unusual people in a very unusual relationship. Beautiful shots of nature are harshly interspersed by rather graphic images of a slaughterhouse, perhaps demonstrating the interplay between reality and dreams. Both Mária and Endre are well aware of this dichotomy, as both are a step removed from society: Endre with his injured arm which has caused him to close himself off from people, and Mária who has never fit in (and is heavily implied to be on the autism spectrum). However, in their dreams they both find peace in each other in a way that seems impossible in the real world.

Morcsányi and Borbély give masterful performances, and it is refreshing to watch an unconventional love story. Unfortunately, writer/director Ildikó Enyedi does seem to lose track of the story partway through as more philosophical ponderings move jarringly into a bizarre romantic-comedy-drama (yes, it is all of those things). What results is a beautiful, yet flawed film which never quite answers the questions it raises, but still leaves an undeniable impact. (Rose Finlay)

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