Country: Hungary / others
Movie Review: “The Notebook”, Crystal Globe winner at Karlovy Vary film festival, is a grim tale of survival based on the first part of Agota Kristof’s war trilogy, published in 1986. Set in 1944 Hungary, the story follows two inseparable twins who learned how to survive when they were left in a countryside farm at the care of their hostile grandmother, in order to escape the horrors of WWII. The bitter old woman, accused of having poisoned her husband, was constantly punishing the boys with no reason. The artful twins, focused in staying strong and keep on studying as their parents recommended, started training their bodies to endure pain, cold, and hunger. During these harsh times, they become friends with a strange Nazi officer, and with a retarded thief girl who lives next door. Some powerful scenes remain in our heads, like when the twins meet an insensitive anti-Jew woman who takes an erotic bath with them, or when they drag the prostrated grandmother through the snowy fields. However, other situations are a bit strained, particularly when trying to accentuate the boys’ determination (the fight with their mother’s new man didn’t convince) or their abrupt changing in the relationship with grandma. With sharp images composing the expressive cinematography by Christian Berger (Michael Haneke’s regular choice) and a mysterious score that sets an intriguing atmosphere, “The Notebook” is an interesting psychological study that evinces pure darkness hidden behind naive faces. A good time is guaranteed, despite the less successful aspects mentioned above.