Gloomy Sunday (1999)

Gloomy Sunday (1999)

A mysterious World War II romance with a fascinating dynamic between its three lovers



Germany, Hungary
English, German, Hungarian
Drama, History, Romance, War
András Bálint, Ben Becker, Denis Moschitto
112 min

What it's about

Budapest in the thirties. The restaurant owner Laszlo hires the pianist András to play in his restaurant. Both men fall in love with the beautiful waitress Ilona who inspires András to his only composition. His song of Gloomy Sunday is, at first, loved and then feared, for its melancholic melody triggers off a chain of suicides. The fragile balance of the erotic ménage à trois is sent off kilter when the German Hans goes and falls in love with Ilona as well.

The take

Tied together by a song that seems to drive people to end their own lives, Gloomy Sunday's tale of polyamorous love torn apart by the advent of the Second World War is one that doesn't operate according to your usual narrative structure. Its stranger elements might not always work with the very real horrors of the Nazis' invasion of Hungary, but the film still expresses this horror in a unique way. Even long before the war begins, this song that joins our three lovers together seems to touch on a sense of doom everybody is feeling—warning signs of Hitler's rise to power that ordinary people seem to have been powerless to stop in time. It's certainly unique for a non-action-driven war film, bathed in tragedy and bitter irony.

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