Pleasant Days

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Movie Review by Alice Castle

Starring: Tamas Polgar, Tóth Orsi, Kata Weber, Lajos Ottó Horvath, Andras Rethelyi

Director: Kornel Mundruczó

There’s nothing pleasant about the dismal days spent by characters in this 2002 Hungarian film from director Kornel Mundruczó. Hints of incest, rape and sordid childbirth make it one of the most gruesome and depressing films I’ve seen in a long time – and I can’t imagine the Hungarian tourist board would be too pleased about it doing the film festival circuit.

Peter, recently released from prison returns to visit his sister in the launderette she works in, and chances upon Maya a young woman giving birth in the back room in amongst the dry cleaning. It appears Peter’s sister is paying Maya to have a surrogate child, and she’s been wearing a cushion under her dress because she doesn’t want everyone to know. Peter becomes involved with Maya, and is drawn back to his old friends and criminal underworld.

There are fleeting moments of tenderness between brother and sister, and both women clearly have maternal feelings for the baby they share, but the moral of the film seems to be that there is no rehabilitation for an individual marred by hopelessness and violence. Sadly, the lack of empathy we feel for any of the characters means this dreary moral doesn’t even hit home.

1 out of 6 stars