Lili Horvat’s second feature film, after THE WEDNESDAY CHILD from 2015, has one of the most cumbersome titles in recent years: PREPARATIONS TO BE TOGETHER FOR AN UNKNOWN PERIOD OF TIME (ON DEMAND AT GO EAST FILM FESTIVAL until April 28, 2021). Or in the Hungarian original: FELKÉSZÜLÉS MEGHATÁROZATLAN IDEIG TARTÓ EGYÜTTLÉTRE. The film begins with a quote from a poem by the American poet Sylvia Plath, which sets the mood of the film: „I think I made you up inside my head.“
Almost forty-year-old Márta Vizy is a successful neurosurgeon. 19 or 20 years ago she emigrated from Hungary to the USA. She met her Hungarian colleague János Drexler at a congress in the USA. Marta falls in love with him, she is deeply convinced that he is exactly the right man for her. And then she has the idea of leaving her career in the USA behind and return to Budapest to meet him. Both make an appointment – romantically – a month later – without exchanging contact details – at the Liberty Bridge in Budapest, at 5 p.m., on the Pest side. First she’s staying in a hotel, and she’s getting ready for the date. But Marta waits in vain for János at the Liberty Bridge. She starts to get nervous and calls him at his place of work in the hospital, but she does not reach him. When she finds him, he claims he doesn’t even know her. She’s collapsing, literally. She wants to go back to the USA, but turns back at the airport. She is convinced that János is not denying her, but that he really did not recognize her. Márta uses old contacts to be able to work at the clinic where János also works, although she is actually completely overqualified for the job. She moves into a run-down apartment – with a view of the Liberty Bridge. She starts researching his life and spies on him, but she also goes into psychological treatment. And then the day comes when the two meet in the clinic. He remembers the strange encounter in which he had not recognized her. And in the future the two will meet more often…
In her first leading role, the Hungarian theater and film actress Natasa Stork plays a haunting game about truth, reality, madness and confusion – and love. Lili Horvat has succeeded in creating an impressive, allusive work that manages to draw the audience in and leave them floating for a long time in the uncertainty as to whether what is happening is only happening in Márta’s imagination. Cleverly, the story never leaves any doubt that János really isn’t a liar – and the film cleverly avoids any excursions into the mystical and the inexplicable. The story of the film is located very firmly in the world of science, research and evidence. From this basic constellation, the tension and the pull of the story develop. It is deeply satisfying that any branching into the supernatural, the cheap solution offered by many such stories, is simply refused. For all the tension that the story generates, the film also emphasizes the importance of science and evidence. And with that it is somehow as well a political film.
PREPARATIONS TO BE TOGETHER FOR AN UNKNOWN PERIOD OF TIME / FELKÉSZÜLÉS MEGHATÁROZATLAN IDEIG TARTÓ EGYÜTTLÉTRE
CAST: Natasa Stork, Viktor Bodó, Benett Vilmányi. DIRECTED BY Lily Horvath. 95 minutes.
ON DEMAND until April 28, 2021