On Body and Soul, which marks the Hungarian director Ildikó Enyedi’s return to the international scene after 18 years, depicts the unconventional love story of two socially isolated protagonists: an ageing financial director and a young quality supervisor at a slaughterhouse. Astonished by the discovery that they share identical dreams at night, the two strive to make them come true together. A slightly eccentric, tactile and abstract romance, employing elements of everyday drama and black comedy, it reveals the duality of reality and dream, the animal and the human, the body and the soul. Dexterously coupling distant observation and extraordinary emotionality, the film exploits a bold visual conception, encompassing precise geometric shapes, unpretentious blending together of lyricism and brutality, a symbolic utilisation of colours, and concentrated work with the actors. No wonder, then, that the film, which between the lines and by means of dreamy metaphors highlights a number of the contemporary social traumas, received the Golden Bear at this year’s Berlinale.
The Hungarian director and screenwriter Ildikó Enyedi (b. 1955) studied economics and subsequently film direction at the University of Drama and Film in Budapest. In 1979, she began working with the renowned Béla Balázs Studio, and in 1981 she shot the experimental documentary Flirt, followed by several notable short films. Her debut feature, My 20th Century (1989), caused a sensation at the Cannes festival, where it won the Golden Camera award. Other seminal works of hers include Magic Hunter (1994) and Tamás and Juli (1997), both screened at the Venice festival, and Simon the Magician (1999), a prize-winner in Locarno. Enyedi’s new film, the unusual slaughterhouse romance On Body and Soul, provides an eccentric and poetic insight into finding human affection and love in the least expected of places.