Hungarian cinema really is on a roll at the moment. The kind of magical realist films coming from there right now are proving to be something of an antidote to the more gritty cinema of its neighbours, Romania and Poland. One of the standout films of last year, Ildikó Enyedi’s On Body and Soul (Testről és lélekről) is a case in point. It concerned two people at loggerheads in an abattoir who find love when they find they share dreams of being stags. It was funny and absurd but also very moving, all in just the right way.
Another excellent film from a few years back was Kornél Mundruczó’s White God, about an uprising of dogs in Budapest. It wasn’t really a horror, it played out more like a kind of bizarre comedy of manners, with a satirical bite, too (pun very much intended). Mundruczó’s newest film, Jupiter’s Moon, looks like it continues in this vein, being fantastical but also with some proper punch.
It concerns a Syrian refugee called Aryan (Zsombor Jéger), who crosses over the Hungarian border and is interned. Hungary, you will recall, was right at the mouth of the influx of refugees into Europe a few years back and its treatment of some of them was very controversial. Part of Aryan’s journey includes the amazing discovery of the power of levitation. However, unlike a Hollywood film where this proves to be his saviour, in the topsy-turvy world in which Aryan now finds himself he is forced to barter upon his new-found miracle just to survive.
Jupiter’s Moon is both seriously political and satirically savage, as well as being yet another film to mark the new Hungarian cinema out from the rest.