Sunday, March 14, 2021

Mindgames

Preparations to be Together for an Unknown Period of Time (2020) - Horvát preparations-to-be-together-for-an-unknown-period-of-time-movie-review-2021 Beautiful and esteemed neurosurgeon Márta (Natasa Stork) comes back to Budapest after twenty years abroad living and working in the US, because she fell in love with a fellow Hungarian doctor János (Viktor Bódo) at a medical conference. They made a lover's pact - they will meet each other at the Liberty Bridge in a month's time. But he never shows up. And when confronted at his work place, János denies that they ever even met. But instead of going back to New Jersey where she works and lives, she decides to stay put and take a job at the same local hospital where he has an office. Márta even rents an dumpy apartment with the view of the bridge.

Director Lili Horvát cleverly sets up Preparations... as a seductive mindtrip which is yet grounded in the logic (or illogic) - Márta calmly questions herself if she made up the encounter just because she wanted love to happen so badly for whatever reason, in ongoing therapy sessions - and this means she is abandoning her life in the States, best friends and all. She is there for a long term to find out.

The delicious juxtaposition of being a brilliant neurosurgeon where she can diagnose and eliminate illness of brain which affects both body & mind and letting the whim of her own heart set the course for the unknown is ahem, what's at the heart of the film.

Stork's performance as a highly intelligent and confident woman losing her grip on reality, not because of a man but rather, the idea of a man, is totally absorbing. Her always stoic façade and curt demeanor don't reveal an inch of her inner life. But it's her bare apartment - a mattress on the floor, her lack of interests in furniture that hints at her person. Camera loves Stork though, often with extreme close ups in different angles, Horvát suggests Travis Bickle like fracture in her psyche.

Arresting visuals and unhurried cat-and-mouse situations, Preparations... seduced me visually like no other film in recent years. Watching the movie reminded me of the feeling I got from watching Kieslowski films, long ago. It would've been lovely to see the film on the big screen.

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