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Gloomy SundayGloomy Sunday

Starring: Joachim Krol, Erika Marozsan, Stefano Dionisi and Ben Becker
Directed by: Rolf Shubel
Rated: R
German w/ Engilsh subtitles

Gloomy Sunday is absolutely beautiful. It's a period piece set in Budapest about 1940 - so it's something to get it right without the standard Universal backlot look. On top of a gloriously detailed setting the cast, especially Erika Marozsan, genuinely look as if they stepped from a time machine.

The song Gloomy Sunday is real, and can still be heard today in many different arrangements. Here, screenwriter Ruth Toma and cowriter/director Rolf Schubel take Nick Barrow's fact riddled best-selling novel of fiction behind the long lasting song and spin it into a haunting melody of celluloid.

Story goes…an old man arrives to Szabo restaurant to celebrate his geburstag (birthday). He's all nostalgic for the place and happy to see after all these years the name, Szabo, remains in tribute to his old friend who ran the place when they were both young…but as he asks for the restaurant's infamous "song" to be played, while he spoons his fancy torte before him, he notice a woman's photo from days long gone atop the piano. He fixes on her eyes he suddenly falls dying to the ground. As he chokes for life we all flashback to a happier time for he, and the original owners of the small restaurant…

We are still at Szabo's and we are introduced to Ilona. She's an independent life-loving woman happily assisting her boyfriend, Laszlo Szabo (Joachim Krol) in his daily duties of running his restaurant. They have a mutual respect and the affection is obvious.

That mutual respect is tested when Lazslo hires a new pianist for the place. A young handsome, solemn man named Andras (Stefano Dionasi). Laszlo is a secure man…he hires this young upstart even though it is immediately obvious his Ilona is a tad smitten and the musician returns her favors. Ah, Bohemians...

Meanwhile a quiet German customer, Hans (Ben Becker) has gone and fallen for the beauty as well…he goes so far as to ask her to marry him. She sweetly declines and Mr. Overdramaticschnitzeloop tries to kill himself. Laszlo saves his life and promises Ilona will never know about his little love faux pas.

Hans departs home to Germany and Laszlo his left in the middle of a more intimate triangle. His pianist friend has written a song, 'Gloomy Sunday', with Laszlo's assistance the song become in all-time bestseller in Europe…

There's a gloomy snafu however. It seems the song, which is melodic and instrumental at the time, causes people to kill themselves; or at least the song is playing beside the recently deceased in too many cases to be considered coincidental.

This makes sensitive Andras despair…the idea that his beautiful song could drive people to death is simply unbearable. But he also has to face the truth about Ilona; she just aint a one-man girl.

While trouble is brewing in the three-some's wacky - but workable - word in Budapest, Hans is back to pepper their goulash…The once quiet reserved nerd is now a powerful Nazi official - and he's still smitten with Ilona. He has arrived in charge of "organizing" the Jews of Budapest. The war is on its way there.

As the war starts to affect the Jews of Budapest Hans assures Laszlo - who by birth is indeed Jewish, though he doesn't practice - no harm will come to him. Fear not - said the shark to the minow...eek.

The story twists and turns and matter-of-factly shows how war changes people, how love distorts your mind, and how desire can become an obsession in a moment. Ultimately a love story that spans decades Gloomy Sunday is one of the most moving films I've seen all year. Erika Marozsan radiates and Joachim Krol plays Laszlo with such a deep intuition even through subtitles he will break your heart.

Bluntly speaking? Director Rolf Schubel has created a beautiful flowing love story filled with the good, the bad and the damnable in humanity. And Gloomy Sunday has just enough fairy dust to transport you back to Budapest 1940.

Snack Recommendation: Goulash mit spatzle und kase.

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