sat 25/05/2019

DVD: Confidence | reviews, news & interviews

DVD: Confidence

DVD: Confidence

Fear and loneliness in Nazi-occupied Budapest

The lonely face in a crowd: Ildikó Bánsági as the heroine of István Szabó's 'Confidence' Second Run

Motives of secrecy and fear, set against the background of a totalitarian system, have been crucial elements in Hungarian director István Szabó’s work. Internationally he may be best known for his Oscar-nominated collaborations with Klaus Maria Brandauer in Mephisto, which won him the prize in 1981, as well as Colonel Redl, from three years later.

His Confidence, from 1979, was also nominated as Hungary’s best foreign-language film, and excels in a more local context than Szabó’s following two films – it’s now released internationally for the first time from distributor Second Run. It’s a story of Nazi-occupied Budapest, where main character Kata (Ildikó Bánsági, mesmerizing) is in hiding, sent by resistance movement members into a fictional marriage to give her cover with another freedom fighter, Janos (Peter Andorai, more diffident by character, but no less impressive).

Her real husband is on the run, but the patterns of the couple’s pretended intimacy soon merge into real affection, approaching all too soon the boundaries of love. I’m not sure if “confidence” works best as the title translation – other possible versions would be “trust” or “reliance” – but the story is the same: in a time of war, and hiding out against any imagined adversity, who can you be sure is really helping, rather than betraying you? Cue some soliloquies, which put that uncertainty and suspicion into very real human and emotional terms.

This is a dour and dank regional Budapest, with deserted streets, filmed by Szabó’s long-term cinematographer Lajos Koltai as bleakly empty, and frightened, with a cold, existential light. Interiors are no less sombre, mixing marine blue and umber, with the occasional hint of yellow ochre to (half) cheer us up. Echoes of Edward Hopper for anyone who is looking for them. For what is effectively a two-hander, the supporting roles are uniformly outstanding.

Confidence is a film about the unbearable intimacy of being. The only extra on this release, a 20-minute interview with Szabó, is a light, inspiring take on the gruelling circumstances depicted in his film.

Confidence is a film about the unbearable intimacy of being

rating

Editor Rating: 
5
Average: 5 (1 vote)

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