Oct 20, 2020

Lily Lane (Benedek Fliegauf, 2016)

☼☼☼☼☼☼☼(☼) out of 10☼

Lily Lane (originally, Liliom ösvény) is a peculiar beast, one with a coarse fur coat, and wounded heart beating underneath. Once again, Benedek Fliegauf - famous for the harrowing 2012 drama Just the Wind - opts for a sensitive subject matter and handles it in a rather unconventional fashion. The film focuses on a young mother, Rebeka (the oddly captivating performance by Angéla Stefanovics), who brings a heavy emotional load into the relationship with both her son, Dani (the impressive debut for Bálint Sótonyi), and her soon-to-be ex husband whom she keeps at a safe distance and whom we never see. Through a bizarre fairy tale that she puts Dani to sleep with, we learn a good deal about the ghosts from her past, especially after her mother loses the battle against cancer, which leads to the awkward meeting with her estranged father...

A melancholic, de-sentimentalized rumination on parental neglect, love(lessness) and loss, whether due to separation or death, Fliegauf's latest offering tells the story from two different, yet equally distorted and tightly knit perspectives - those of Rebeka's troubled mind and of a seven-year old child who absorbs every word with wide-eyed curiosity. Each of the leading duo's broken realities is reflected in raw, eerie and subtly intrusive home movie-like sequences, the first of which acts as an opening and sets the gloomy tone for what is to follow. Unapologetically somber and unadorned, occasionally captured in phantasmal, borderline found footage horror B&W, these 'video memories' are not gimmicks, but rather bold experiments in the depiction of unresolved issues and innermost worlds. In stark contrast, Rebeka and Dani's everyday - devoid of its prosaic aspects whenever possible - is lensed in natural light and infused with poetic beauty, the pool scene being one of the film's visual highlights. Directed at a measured pace, Lily Lane or rather, its heroine suddenly 'explodes' in a purifying, cathartic tantrum during the finale, only to be covered by the veil of silent uncertainty...

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