These international films demonstrate the power and persistence of love

While it remains to be seen what the Oscars impacted by COVID-19 will look like this year, I suspect there will be an Oscar winner for Best International Feature, the category that until recently was. known as the best foreign language film. I’m not close to seeing the 93 films that have been accepted – a record for the Academy – but I’m happy to recommend two, two dramatic thrillers that demonstrate the power and persistence of love.

The Hungarian Submission has one of the best tracks I’ve heard in years: it’s called Preparations to be together for an unknown period of time. The film itself is also pretty formidable: a dizzying film noir that never goes where you expect it to.

Natasa Stork plays Márta, a brilliant Hungarian-born neurosurgeon who lives and works in New Jersey. A month earlier, she met there a doctor named János (Viktor Bodó) during a medical conference; they spent a night together and agreed to meet again soon in Budapest. But when she arrives at the agreed meeting point, János is not there. And when she tracks him down, he pretends not to recognize her.

Marta almost goes home, but suddenly changes her mind. She begins to adopt what appears to be extreme and obsessive behavior, renting an apartment in Budapest and finding a job at the hospital where János works. Is János lying or has she somehow dreamed of their brief initial meeting?

What makes the riddle so fascinating is that Márta seems motivated not only by desire, but also by scientific curiosity. The film is based on a deliciously bizarre paradox: it is about an expert in the human brain questioning the limits of her own knowledge. And writer-director Lili Horvát delves deeper into the mystery with eerie camera angles and intense color in what feels like a tribute to Alfred Hitchcock. Vertigo, the ultimate romantic obsession and mistaken identity film.

But if Vertigo was all about a man’s urge to mold and shape the woman of his dreams, Preparations to be together is about a woman trying to find out if the man of her dreams exists. Telling this story from Márta’s perspective, the film picks up the femme fatale’s film noir trope and slyly reverses it. It’s fascinating to watch her pursue János, who then slowly begins to pursue her. Stork gives an extraordinary performance as Márta, his piercing and intelligent gaze sometimes shot in close-up without words. Her eyes are not only windows to her soul; they reveal the inner workings of a truly beautiful mind.

French submission to the Oscars, Two of us, also concerns a powerful bond which is first shrouded in secrecy. He follows two retired women who live in the same building and have had a loving and passionate relationship for years. Barbara Sukowa plays the bold and free-spirited Nina, who longs for her commitment to be made public. But the more calm and shy Madeleine, played by Martine Chevallier, hesitates to reveal the truth to her two grown children, whom she fears never to understand.

The tension turns to drama when Madeleine suffers from a serious stroke and her children hire a nurse, played by Léa Drucker, to take care of her. Nina, desperate to be with and take care of the woman she loves, is left behind. And because Madeleine can no longer move or speak, their relationship seems more secret than ever.

What ensues is an escalating power struggle between Nina and the nurse, who turns out to be both a negligent guardian and a malicious rival. Two of us addresses a number of issues not often seen in movies, including the rights of LGBT couples, elder abuse and neglect. But it does so as part of a nifty domestic thriller that turns a cozy apartment into an emotional war zone.

Two of us was mainly shot in Montpellier, in the south of France, and director Filippo Meneghetti does a great job of bringing the suspense up close. With each new twist, it deepens our investment in Nina and Madeleine’s relationship, which ignites all the more as others threaten to extinguish it.

Because Madeleine was deprived of speech and movement, Chevallier must act almost entirely with his eyes; it’s heartbreaking to watch her try to hold on to nina, even when she can’t hug anymore, only be hugged. And Sukowa, a German actress known for her collaborations with great director Rainer Werner Fassbinder, is electrifying as a woman who refuses to let disease or bigotry stand in her way. She struggles not to root for Nina, even when her desperate machinations drive her to some sort of madness. Love can do that to you, in any language.

Copyright 2021 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh air.

DAVID BIANCULI, HTE:

It’s FRESH AIR. Our film critic Justin Chang recommends two new films from Europe, the French drama “Two Of Us”, available from today in virtual cinemas, and a mystery film from Hungary also showing in virtual cinemas. This is called “Preparations to be together for an unknown period of time”. Both films will represent their country in this year’s Oscar race for Best International Feature. Here is Justin’s opinion.

JUSTIN CHANG, BYLINE: While it remains to be seen what this year’s Oscars will look like, impacted by COVID. I’m assuming there will be an Oscar winner for Best International Feature Film, the category that until recently was known as Best Foreign Language Film. I am far from having seen the 93 films selected, a record for the academy. But I’m happy to recommend two, two dramatic thrillers that demonstrate the power and persistence of love.

The Hungarian Submission has one of the best tracks I’ve heard in years. This is called “Preparations to be together for an unknown period of time”. The movie itself is also pretty formidable, a dizzying film noir that never goes where you expect it to be. Natasa Stork plays Marta, a brilliant Hungarian-born neurosurgeon who lives and works in New Jersey. A month earlier, she met a doctor named Janos there at a medical conference. They spent a night together and agreed to meet again soon in Budapest. But when she arrives at the agreed meeting point, Janos is not there. And when she tracks him down, he pretends not to recognize her. Marta almost goes home, but suddenly changes her mind.

She begins to engage in what appears to be extreme obsessive behavior, renting an apartment in Budapest and finding a job at the hospital where Janos works. Is Janos lying? Or did she somehow envision their original brief encounter? What makes the puzzle so fascinating is that Marta seems motivated not only by desire, but scientific curiosity as well. The film is based on a delightfully strange paradox. She is an expert in the human brain questioning the limits of her own knowledge. And writer-director Lili Horvat delves deeper into the mystery with eerie camera angles and intense color in what looks like an homage to Alfred Hitchcock’s “Vertigo,” the ultimate film about romantic obsession and fallacy. identity.

But if “Vertigo” was all about a man’s urge to mold and shape the woman of his dreams, “Preparations To Be Together” is about a woman trying to figure out if the man of her dreams exists. same. Telling the story from Marta’s perspective, the film picks up the femme fatale’s film noir trope and slyly reverses it. It’s fascinating to watch her pursue Janos, who then slowly begins to pursue her. Natasa Stork gives an extraordinary performance as Marta, her piercing and intelligent gaze at times turned into a silent close-up. Her eyes are not just windows to her soul. They reveal the inner workings of a truly beautiful mind.

The French Oscar submission, “Two Of Us,” is also about a powerful bond that is initially shrouded in secrecy. He follows two retired women who live in the same building and have had a loving and passionate relationship for years. Barbara Sukowa plays the bold and free-spirited Nina, who longs for her commitment to be made public. But the more calm and shy Madeleine, played by Martine Chevallier, hesitates to reveal the truth to her two grown children, whom she fears never to understand.

The tension turns to tragedy when Madeleine suffers a serious stroke and her children hire a nurse, played by Lea Drucker, to take care of her. Nina, desperate to be with and take care of the woman she loves, is left behind. And because Madeleine can no longer move or speak, their relationship seems more secret than ever. What ensues is an escalating power struggle between Nina and the nurse, who turns out to be both a negligent guardian and a malicious rival.

“Two Of Us” addresses a number of issues not often seen in movies, including the rights of LGBT couples and elder abuse and neglect. But it does so as part of a nifty domestic thriller that turns a cozy apartment into an emotional war zone. “Two Of Us” was mainly filmed in Montpellier, in the south of France. And the director, Filippo Meneghetti, does a great job of bringing the suspense up close. With each new twist, it deepens our investment in Nina and Madeleine’s relationship, which ignites all the more as others threaten to extinguish it.

Because Madeleine was deprived of speech and movement, Chevallier must act almost entirely with his eyes. It’s heartbreaking to watch her try to hold on to Nina even when she can’t hug anymore, only to be hugged. And Sukowa, a German actress known for her collaborations with great director Rainer Werner Fassbinder, is electrifying as a woman who refuses to let disease or bigotry stand in her way. She makes it hard not to root for Nina even when her desperate machinations drive her into some sort of madness. Love can do this to you in any language.

BIANCULI: Justin Chang is a film critic for the LA Times. Monday on FRESH AIR Gender, Race and Violence in Police Services – a chat with filmmaker Deirdre Fishel on her new PBS documentary “Women In Blue,” which focuses on the Minneapolis Police Department. The film begins three years ago and ends with the murder of George Floyd. We also hear from Sergeant Alice White, who is African American and one of the policewomen in the film who is committed to changing the culture of law enforcement. Hope you can join us.

(SOUNDBITE BY MIKE FAHIE JAZZ ORCHESTRA, AARON IRWIN AND NICK GRINDER’S “SYMPHONY NO. 6, II. ALLEGRO CON GRAZIA”)

The executive producer of BIANULLI: FRESH AIR is Danny Miller. For Terry Gross, I am David Bianculli.

(SOUNDBITE BY MIKE FAHIE JAZZ ORCHESTRA, AARON IRWIN AND NICK GRINDER’S “SYMPHONY NO. 6, II. ALLEGRO CON GRAZIA”) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


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