Pleasant Days

Szép napok

Director:
Year: 2002
Country: Hungary
Running time: 85 mins
Hungary
Production co: Laurin Film
Producers: Zsófia Kende, Viktória Petrányi, Kórnel Sopos, Philippe Bober
Screenplay: Kórnel Mundroczó, Viktória Petrányi, Sándor Zóstér
Photography: András Nagy
Editors: Vanda Arányi, Delphine Boudon
Production designers: Ágnes Szabó
Costume designer: János Brecki
Sound: Gábor Balázs

In Hungarian with English subtitles

Cast
Péter: Tamás Polgár
Maya: Orsi Tóth
Márika: Kata Wéber
János: Lajos Ottó Horváth

Festivals: Locarno, Edinburgh, Toronto, Vancouver 2002; Rotterdam 2003

Best First Film, Locarno Film Festival 2002
The title is scathingly ironic. There’s nothing pleasant about being 20-something in 26-year-old Kórnel Mundroczó’s vision of provincial Hungary in the 21st century. He plunges us into a brightly lit chamber of emotional impoverishment where every relationship is overtly sexual and brutally acquisitive. The young man and woman at the film’s centre exude the animal magnetism and blazing whiteness of caged snow leopards – and it’s all they’ve got to get by on. Péter just out of prison, goes to stay with his sister, Márika, with whom he has a creepily intimate relationship. Márika has just completed an elaborate charade of pregnancy in order to claim motherhood of another young woman’s baby and so trap her wayward lover into captivity. The actual mother, Maya, is the moral vacuum about whom the other characters circle. Wanted by Péter, she is jealously guarded by her lover, a thuggish businessman. The muscularity and voyeurism of the filmmaking implicate us in the obsessive physicality of the world the film describes. The actors, particularly the two young women, are riveting. This is angry-young-man filmmaking of formidable assurance: a sustained jolt of nihilistic fervour. — Bill Gosden

Mundruczó’s film is a daring, realistic and provocative meditation on the high price of freedom. András Nagy’s mobile, edgy camera work pitches events at perilous angles and heightens the hopelessness that drives the characters. The Hungarian town that serves as a backdrop achieves an abstract, universal feel, as do the vivid portraits of young adults who inhabit a restrictive world where sex and deception function as currencies. Pleasant Days is certainly among the most ironic titles in this Festival, but the film is a riveting and, ultimately, sincere look at the extremes to which people are willing to go. — Dimitri Eipides, Toronto International Film Festival 2002

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