The Wednesday Child, a family struggling to take shape
by Camillo De Marco
- The debut piece by director and screenwriter Lili Horváth takes a delicate and elegant approach to reconstructing the journey to social redemption of a young Hungarian woman
Released in Hungarian cinemas in December 2015, The Wednesday Child [+see also:
interview: Lili Horváth
film profile] has been selected to compete at the Trieste Film Festival after enjoying great success at various other festivals, in particular at Karlovy Vary, where it won the award for Best Film in the East of the West section. The film is the debut piece by director and screenwriter Lili Horváth who, in a video interview with Cineuropa, described it as “a story of faith and determination” in the face of life’s adversities.
The protagonist of the film is Maja (played very perceptively by Kinga Vecsei), a maladjusted 19-year-old from Budapest and mother to a five-year-old boy who lives in an orphanage, who she can only visit on Wednesdays (hence the title of the film). Maja and the boy’s father, Krisz (Zsolt Antal) spent their childhood in the same institution. Whilst Maja does everything she can to obtain custody of the child, young Krisz carries on with his life of carjacking with a gang of lowlifes. Maja opens a launderette, entering the programme for microcredit organised by social services, but her young partner stands in her way when he discovers the feelings that have taken root between Maja and her caseworker (Szabolcs Thuróczy, White God [+see also:
interview: Kornél Mundruczó
The film starts with its dramatic epilogue, to then give us a long flashback that delicately and elegantly reconstructs the journey to social redemption of this young Hungarian woman. The dominant hue of the film is a light pastel green, a colour which in western culture represents hope, a feeling that is continuously discouraged but tenaciously nurtured by the protagonist throughout the film. There’s a social realism to Lili Horváth’s writing that acts almost like a political pamphlet and places her films in the same category as those of the Dardenne brothers, with its way of portraying the point of view of those less fortunate. In particular, the family struggling to take shape in The Wednesday Child is similar to that in The Child [+see also:
interview: Luc & Jean-Pierre Dardenne
film profile], which won the Palme d’Or at Cannes in 2005. Here the child is dumb and not loved by his father, whilst in the Dardenne brothers’ film the boy is sold by his young and inconsiderate father. In both films, these micro family units are synonymous with broken European society, although there are a few overly predictable moments in Lili Horváth’s debut film, given that The Wednesday Child is based on her previous short film Sunstroke.
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