This melodrama is set against the backdrop of World War II, the invasion of Budapest, and the Holocaust. Amazing how much heft love triangles gain when set against the backdrop of global crises. Gloomy Sunday - Ein Lied von Liebe und Tod is an epic period film with a ménage-a-trois at its center; one that asks its audience to wish happiness upon a merry threesome that tries to get along despite the world falling apart around them. That would be a clever enough twist, told with surprising poignancy and depth, but Gloomy Sunday goes even better. Its title refers to that famous European ballad that became notorious for supposedly driving its listeners to suicide, and indeed that titular song becomes the crux of the film. One of the threesome, moody pianist András (Stefano Dionisi), is the composer of that ballad --and the conscience of the film as lost souls die around him and the Nazis come to town.
Director Rolf Schübel handles 1930s Budapest with period film stateliness, but he encourages lively performances from his three leads. Erika Marozsán is a sumptuous young hostess to restaurant owner Laszlo, played with flair and a touch of good-natured swarthiness by Joachim Król (Run Lola Run). Laszlo hires András to play in his restaurant, they both fall for the same woman, and they find an accommodating relationship. It's handled with an appropriately light touch.
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