Movie Title: On Body and Soul
First Watch / Repeat Viewing
Running Time: 1 hr. and 56 min.
Rated: Not Rated
Who did I watch with?: Stephie
Where did I watch it?: Home
On Body and Soul is a nominee in the Best Foreign Film category at the Academy Awards. The movie opens with a buck and a doe in a snowy forest comforting one another as they forage for food. This motif is returned to repeatedly during the first half of the film. The movie has a slow pace and a simple plot. At the same time it is able to capture a wide range of feeling ranging form funny to deeply sad and in the end very sweet.
Endre and Maria are both employees at a slaughterhouse. Endre is the Chief Financial Officer while Maria is the newly hired head of quality control. Endre’s left hand is crippled from an implied accident that is never made specific. Maria suffers from obsessive compulsive disorder and a fairly significant brand of autism, but with it she also gets a photographic memory. As the plot progresses the movie focuses less on the gruesome reality of the slaughterhouse and more into their personal lives. It is a gradual shift, but is very important for developing the characters in the movie.
After a break in at the plant, a psychologist is called to talk to all the employees, and see if there is any emotional irregularities that could help indicate who broke into the medicine cabinets. At this point Endre and Maria connect in an unexpected way. The characters are very natural in their own unnatural ways. They have patterns that are long settled and well worn. Things do not go smoothly. Endre revisits old flames and Maria revisits her childhood therapist (who is clearly out of his depth) as their relationship starts, stops, chokes, and throttles. The love story is beautiful.
The translation is one area I need to critique a little as I think some of it may have been lost in translation. Watching a grizzled police officer looking for a bribe say “the meat was really yummy” is hilarious. In another instance Endre refers to the visiting psychologist as a “silly goose.” I don’t speak Hungarian, so I assume the translation is good, but those two may have brought up some unintentional humor.
On Body and Soul is a beautiful and non-traditional love story. I found myself rooting for the characters. When they failed I rooted for them and when they succeeded I was happy for them. See it.
Tomorrow’s Movie: The Hurt Locker (2008)