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BLACK NIGHTS 2020 First Feature Competition

Review: As Far as I Know

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- In their debut feature, Nándor Lőrincz and Bálint Nagy examine the influence of a rape and the ensuing trauma on the lives of, and relationship dynamics between, a yuppie couple

Review: As Far as I Know
Gabriella Hámori and Balász Bodolai in As Far as I Know

The lives of a couple can be derailed in an instant by a traumatic event. Does the couple dynamic change all of a sudden, or does the trauma merely expose some underlying issues? These are the questions that duo of Hungarian filmmakers Nándor Lőrincz and Bálint Nagy deal with in their first feature, the atmospheric melange of relationship drama and slow-burning thriller As Far as I Know [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
, which has premiered in the First Feature Competition of the Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival.

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Dénes (played by Balász Bodolai, glimpsed in László NemesSunset [+see also:
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trailer
interview: László Nemes
film profile
]
) and Nóra (Gabriella Hámori, whose credits include roles in genre films such as Post Mortem [+see also:
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trailer
film profile
]
and The Exam [+see also:
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]
) are proud members of the Budapest yuppie class. They have been a couple for a long time, working in the same marketing company and sharing the same circle of equally successful friends. Their intended adoption of a baby girl, Hana, would be the next step in their relationship.

They meet with friends to celebrate the adoption agency’s decision at a craft beer pub, but their big news is overshadowed by an announcement by another couple at the table that they are expecting their second child. Dénes and Nóra react differently to it: she does not seem concerned even a bit, while he shows some signs of having a fragile ego, and their discussion on the way home turns into a heated and loud argument on the bus. A man (Attila Menszátor Héresz) interferes and only ramps up the intensity. Nora gets off the bus at a random stop, and the man soon follows her, while Dénes stays on the bus. He arrives home first, and when Nóra also appears much later, it is clear that she is in distress: she was attacked and raped by the man from the bus.

They go to the police a few days later, which proves to be too late, evidence-wise, and the only thing the police can do is to proceed with the description of the perpetrator, hoping that he will get caught in their net. In the meantime, Dénes conducts an “investigation” of his own and tracks the man, reporting his whereabouts to the police. Once confronted, he denies it, and the police are not exactly sympathetic to Nóra. When she posts about her experience online, it attracts some attention, both wanted and unwanted, affecting everything from their careers to their chances of completing the adoption process. More importantly, the whole situation unearths deeper problems they have as a couple – mainly issues of trust and support.

Unlike the couple’s dynamic in the film, the dynamic between the directorial duo is quite smooth. They worked together previously on short films and on television, and they “cast” themselves in strict roles here. Nagy, also the movie’s cinematographer, handles the visualisation, led by the cues from Lőrincz’s script, reportedly based on true events. Working in synergy, they touch on some of the issues in the system’s inner workings (some of the visual metaphors are pure gold), but they never wander too far from the central subject or the couple’s relationship, which we see almost exclusively from Dénes’ point of view.

Both of the stars act in a pleasant, low-key emotional register, adding another layer of mystery to the central drama. The cinematography and its clear, vibrant colours stand in stark contrast with the grey area of morality and human relations that the film covers, while the piano score by Attila Fodor adds tension at just the right moments, making As Far as I Know more than just a good debut feature.

As Far as I Know is a Hungarian-Romanian co-production by M&M Film and Partnersfilm, with Chainsaw Europe as a co-production company.

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