Down By Love

"Extraordinary"

Down By Love Review


She's a 24 year old single woman who seduced or was seduced by her foster father when she was 13, following the death of her parents. However the pair came together, Éva (brilliant and winsome Patricia Kovács) has become mentally addicted to 43 year old Tibor (Gábor Máté) to such an extent that she conjures scenes with him in her apartment when he's not there. She berates him for not leaving his wife, Éva's former foster mother Klára (Rita Tallós). She prepares lavish meals by candlelight for the non-present lover. She coos coyly, makes demands, raves, instructs, and succumbs to her images as night turns into day and Monday lapses into Tuesday.

As she verbalizes her thoughts in a fantasy monologue as though talking to someone in the room, or in audible memory flashbacks, we learn that Klára had sent her out of her house and into a convent in an effort to save her marriage when she discovered the illicit affair. Tibor, for his part, recognizes the immorality, if not the illegality, of his acts but continues his secret relationship with the comely girl who is his virtual love slave. He gives her money for partial support which, combined with her earnings as an animation cartoonist, allows her considerable freedom to live alone in the apartment she inherited from her parents and plenty of time to dwell on her obsession.

But the devious Tibor, besides stringing her along with false promises, attempts to cover his ass by paying a neighbor to report Éva's every observable move to him, lest her possessive tendencies turn into something that can bring the legal system down on his conniving neck. Despite the wise pleadings of her foster home sidekick Zsuzsa (Zsuzsa Járó) to allow other men into her life, and despite the declarations of love by a delivery man of her age, Éva clings to her passion for Tibor and fills her every moment with him, real and conjured, awake and asleep. When she tries to bring the lingering situation to a head, she raises a turmoil.

Returning home from an aborted intention to confront Klára, she listens to two contradictory phone calls on her answering machine. In the first, Klára attempts to put Éva in her place by boasting how she and Tibor are still in love and leaving soon for Spain. That's immediately followed by a message from Tibor making a date to come over as though nothing has changed. Éva laughs, then plots her moves. She invites both over at the same time for a final showdown, one which will become tragic in its finality.

This psychological study of obsession turned into madness comes to us from an accomplished set of Hungarian filmmakers. The art of it is in the challenges of a single viewpoint that director Tamás Sas set himself (perhaps with a nod to Roman Polanski's Repulsion) and in a world class performance by Patricia Kovács that vividly fulfills the tight framework of her director's vision. Our eyes never leave this girl or the images of her psychosis. The camera grips her in its focus for every frame while other characters are seen in soft definition or through mottled glass on the peripheries of the composition. And, while this total absorption with a self-isolating character and her fixation might suggest intensity overkill, Sas, his exceptional cinematographer Elemér Ragályi, and Kovács herself, so vary the visual and modal contexts of the drama that fascination remains constant until the somewhat dubious ending.

Light and makeup turn Kovács into a spectrum of changeability. Here she's semi silhouetted by depressing window light on a drab day; there her chameleon face is lit up like an incandescent raggedy doll by the light of her work table. Kovács is an enticing Lolita figure as she bops around her apartment chasing her visions and memories, her behavior arising from a disturbed interior landscape. Her wide range of expression and sensual appeal feed a demanding performance that should be her ticket to recognition and success on American and international film circuits. For my money, this Budapestian newcomer is an international star in the making. Discovery by an American director is all it should take to get that ball rolling. You read it here.

The visual detail of the noirish atmosphere is at the highest level of film resolution. While some might consider the story telling technique a bit gimmicky, the devotion to it and its elegant realization elevates it to cinematic artistry. Don't get it confused with Renée Zellwegger's Down With Love or Jim Jarmusch's Down by Law. Down by Love is an art house film whose future fans should be crying for its widest possible distribution.

Aka Szerelemtöl sújtva.

The three faces of Eva.



Facts and Figures

Run time: 94 mins

In Theaters: Friday 5th March 2004

Budget: $3M

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4.5 / 5

IMDB: 6.6 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Tamás Sas

Producer: Dénes Szekeres

Starring: Patricia Kovács as Éva, Gábor Máté as Tibor, Gábor Máté as Auntie Lenke, Imre Csuja as Lenke's son, Rita Tallós as Klára, Zsuzsa Járó as Zsuzsa

Also starring: ,

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

The Fate of the Furious Movie Review

The Fate of the Furious Movie Review

With the more dumbed-down title Fast & Furious 8 outside of North America, this overcrowded...

A Quiet Passion Movie Review

A Quiet Passion Movie Review

British writer-director Terence Davies (The Deep Blue Sea) is an expert at digging beneath the...

The Sense of an Ending Movie Review

The Sense of an Ending Movie Review

Julian Barnes' Booker Prize-winning novel is adapted into a remarkably intelligent, gently involving film anchored...

The Boss Baby Movie Review

The Boss Baby Movie Review

There isn't a lot of subtlety in this madcap animated comedy, which is more aimed...

City of Tiny Lights Movie Review

City of Tiny Lights Movie Review

After the latest incarnation of Dredd, director Pete Travis shifts gears drastically for this complex...

Going in Style Movie Review

Going in Style Movie Review

This is only technically a remake of the iconic 1979 film starring movie icons George...

Graduation Movie Review

Graduation Movie Review

Romanian filmmaker Cristian Mungiu (4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days) recounts another staggeringly detailed...

Advertisement
Ghost in the Shell Movie Review

Ghost in the Shell Movie Review

This sci-fi thriller is so visually stunning that it deserves to be mentioned in the...

Free Fire Movie Review

Free Fire Movie Review

Basically a 90-minute shoot-out, there isn't a lot to this movie. British filmmaker Ben Wheatley...

Life Movie Review

Life Movie Review

Like a mash-up of Alien and Gravity, this ripping sci-fi horror movie is very effective...

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

Based on a true story, it's the historical aspect of these events that holds the...

Chips Movie Review

Chips Movie Review

It's clear from the very start that this movie has little to do with the...

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

This remake of Disney's 1991 classic is remarkably faithful, using present-day digital animation effects to...

The Salesman Movie Review

The Salesman Movie Review

Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi won his second Oscar with this astute drama which, like 2011's...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.