Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Final review in EU Film Showcase

The final film I saw in the European Union Film Showcase was I Am Not Your Friend from Hungary, which I was highly anticipating, because I saw director György Pálfi's Taxidermia at the 2007 festival, and was very impressed by its blend of grotesque imagery and emotional depth. Palfi's new offering is far less graphic but just as emotionally intense. It revolves around several residents of Budapest and their deceitful, manipulative relationships with each other. In a bar, a woman, Rita, tells bartender Sophie that she is planning to divorce her husband, but doesn't know that Sophie has been having an affair with the husband she is about to leave, an affair which the husband, Andras, treated as almost a joke, letting his friend Mark (who turned out to be Sophie's husband), listen in on her telephone seductions of Andras. Mark is also having an affair with his employee Sara, who has been cheating on her boyfriend, and it goes on like this. Every relationship is shrouded in lies and weighed with infidelity and distrust. There are no clear cut heroes and villains, everyone gets hurt and hurts others. The film is preceded by a short documentary set in a kindergarten classroom, where the children, with typical fickleness, switch who they call friends and leave others out of their groups. The short is meant to illustrate how early we use relationships to manipulate each other, but at least the kindergarteners are honest about who they like and dislike at the moment, where the adults in the feature take to lying and manipulating. Although they are the "grownups," they can't be honest about what they want with each other, and may not even know what they want.