Contemporary World Cinema

On Body and Soul

Ildikó Enyedi

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Two introverted abattoir employees find that they share the same dream every night and try to recreate it in broad daylight, from provocative Hungarian filmmaker Ildikó Enyedi.

On Body and Soul marks the long-awaited return of Hungarian writer-director Ildikó Enyedi, whose last feature, Simon, the Magician, entranced audiences at the Festival back in 1999. At once celestial and searing, Enyedi's latest work may be her strangest yet. It is certainly the most bewitching love story you are likely to see anytime soon.

Endre (Géza Morcsányi) and Maria (Alexandra Borbély) work at an abattoir. He is the financial director, she the new quality inspector. By day, their urban workplace houses scenes of animals being slaughtered — and Enyedi does not shy away from the carnage. By night, they dream of the same pastoral scene in which deer rub against each other in the snow. Endre is mild-mannered, while the OCD-afflicted Maria is nervous and introverted. In everyday life, these two can't quite connect, then a company psychiatrist realizes that they see identical images during sleep. Should these subconsciously kindred coworkers commingle in their waking hours? Or are they better off resigning themselves to being lovers only in dreams?

Enyedi has been producing singularly provocative visions since her stunningly imaginative debut feature, My Twentieth Century, screened here back in 1989. On Body and Soul keeps our minds alert even as it places us under a spell. It reminds us how much we need filmmakers who can embrace both the gorgeous and the grotesque as equally meaningful aspects of human experience.

CAMERON BAILEY

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