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The Crack Magazine


Preparations to be Together for an Unknown Period of Time

Director: Lili Horvát 

Stars: Natasa Stork, Viktor Bodó, Benett Vilmányi

For the most part, this unwieldly-titled but meditative genre-skipping mystery from Hungarian director Horvát casts quite a spell.

After two decades, accomplished neurosurgeon Márta (Stork) has returned to Hungary from the US, following a brief romantic encounter with a fellow Hungarian surgeon János (Bodó) at a medical conference in New Jersey. They did not exchange details, but arranged meet at a predetermined time at the Liberty Bridge in Budapest.

After János fails to appear, Márta tracks him down to a local hospital, but when confronted János denies that they have ever met. Márta takes a job at the hospital, against the advice of an older ex-colleague who advises her to go back to the US, and quickly impresses the staff with her skills. When she saves the life of a young medical student’s father, the student Alex (Vilmányi) develops a crush on her, but Márta is still fixated with Janos. She rents a shabby apartment with a view over the bridge and starts stalking him online, even though in meetings with her therapist she calmly muses that the New Jersey meeting may never have taken place and that she may have a neurological condition.

This ‘Vertigo’-style mystery of obsession and idenitiy is memorably imbued with a wistful wonder redolent of Kieslowski’s ‘The Double Life of Véronique’. The statuesque Stork, dressed in chic tailored clothes of a noir femme fatale, delivers a compellingly understated performance, striking a skilful balance between sympathetic and unnerving, and the noirish feel is augmented by Róbert Maly’s elegant 35mm cinematography. Alas, the rich ambiguity is abandoned at the conclusion with a neat and disappointingly banal explanation.

Preparations to be Together for an Unknown Period of Time is available to stream on Curzon Home Cinema from 19th March

David Willoughby

Follow David on @DWill_Crackfilm