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It’s Not the Time of My Life: Family, noun

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- KARLOVY VARY 2016: Hungarian director Szabolcs Hajdu’s film digs deep into the nooks and crannies of the family unit with an emotional and simple portrayal of the conflict between two couples and their children

Review
Orsolya Török-Illyés and Szabolcs Hajdu in It’s Not the Time of My Life

Two families, two young couples with one child apiece, are pitted against one another by circumstance: one is forced to return to Budapest after spending time in Scotland, with the other putting them up temporarily in their apartment as it deals with its own problems. These are problems that affect all families, which Hungarian director Szabolcs Hajdu portrays in a confident and simple way in It’s Not the Time of My Life [+see also:
trailer
film focus
interview: Szabolcs Hajdu
film profile
]
(original title: Ernelláék Farkaséknál). A film made on a (very) low budget – shot in the director’s apartment and starring his friends and family members, with a crew made up of students from Budapest Metropolitan University – which, with its emotional and plan simplicity, won over the jury at the 51st Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, which awarded the film its top prize, the Crystal Globe for Best Film in the official competition.

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Hajdu, whose career has been marked by appearances at the most important of festivals (White Palms [+see also:
film review
trailer
film focus
interview: Szabolcs Hajdu
film profile
]
was shown in Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes in 2006, Bibliothèque Pascal [+see also:
film review
trailer
film focus
interview: Szabolcs Hajdu - director
interview: Szabolcs Hajdu
film profile
]
in the Forum section of Berlin in 2010, and Mirage [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
at Toronto in 2014), uses his latest film to tell his most personal and simple story yet, but one which is no more banal as a result. In It’s Not the Time of My Life, a family, made up of Farkas (played by Hajdu himself, who also received the Award for Best Actor at the Festival), Eszter (Orsolya Török-Illyés, Hajdu’s wife in real life) and Brúnó (Zsigmond Hajdu), are paid an unexpected visit by Eszter’s sister, Ernella (Erika Tankó), her husband Albert (Domokos Szabó), and their daughter Laura (Lujza Hajdu), one night when the latter family’s car breaks down whilst they’re on their way back to Hungary. The young family must hold their tongues and try not to speak ill of their fellow countrymen, and go back to living with them after a failed stay on a Scottish farm, which comes out in Farkas and Albert’s conversations, who were born into an atmosphere of resentment and arrogance, but are now full of regret and solidarity. Their mutual respect for one another is put to the test on a number of occasions: in Albert’s comical confession that he cheated on his wife, in Eszter’s heartwrenching confession that Farkas’ future is without hope, in the stormy disappearance of an envelope full of money, in the scary disappearance of little Brúnó…

It is at these exact points that the screenplay (written by Hajdu, initially as a piece of theatre) winds around the subject matter of the film, giving it lots of different sides. The relationship between the two family worlds develops over the course of just one day, during which the film never leaves the apartment, shaping a huis-clos in which everything seems superfluous except the emotional journey of each of the characters it features.

The admirable work of the crew in the sole shooting location (there were no fewer than thirteen cameramen involved) gives us transparency, through which It’s Not the Time of My Life achieves moments of pure honesty, both in its lively discussions and its calm silences, and finally, in the approach to those people who are closest to us, in spite of everything, and who are part of our lives.

The film was produced by Filmworks Ltd. (which is also taking care of international sales), Focus-Fox Stúdió and Látókép Ensemble.

(Translated from Spanish)

photogallery

international title: It's Not the Time of My Life
original title: Ernelláék Farkaséknál
country: Hungary
year: 2016
directed by: Szabolcs Hajdu
screenplay: Szabolcs Hajdu
cast: Erika Tankó, Orsolya Török-Illyés, Szabolcs Hajdu, Domokos Szabó, Lujza Hajdu

main awards/selection

Karlovy Vary International Film Festival 2016 
Busan International Film Festival 2016 
Warsaw Film Festival 2016 
Seville European Film Festival 2016 
Les Arcs International Film Festival 2016 
Cottbus Film Festival 2016 
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