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2 reviews, 29 user ratings

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Gloomy Sunday
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by Scott Weinberg

"Dark and moody, romantic and inspiring...all at once!"
4 stars

Interested in seeing a movie about doomed love affairs, a rash of music-induced suicides, and smug Nazi officers getting rich via the horrible suffering of others? Sounds like a grim pill to swallow, eh? In many ways, "Gloomy Sunday" is precisely as stark as its title implies. Overall it's a handsome, romantic and altogether engrossing tale that should absolutely please fans of "the old-fashioned tearjerker".

The setting is Budapest just prior to Nazi occupation. The players are restauranteur Laszlo Svabo (Joachim Krol) and his beautiful young lover/employee Ilona (Erika Marozsan), a pair of good-natured free-thinkers who are currently on the lookout for a new piano player. After auditioning a handful of worthy applicants, Laszlo and Ilona are taken by the talents of the youthful and handsome Andras (Stefano Dionisi). Needing only a piano player for their restaurant, the couple also ends up with a newfound friend and lover.

Andras pens a melodious (yet rather melancholy) piece of music that almost immediately attracts the attention of some music producers, and the threesome now find themselves business partners...among many other things. The tune is a hit wherever it's played, but its downbeat melody is curiously found playing next to a growing rash of suicide victims. Andras' success is immediately tarnished by an overwhelming sense of guilt. And when a former customer of Laszlo's returns to Budapest with a Swastika on his arm (and still carrying a torch for the luminous Ilona) things go from gloomy to downright ghastly.

But what buoys Gloomy Sunday through its admittedly dire plot threads is an unwavering affection for things like love , loyalty and true friendship. That the "menage a trois" entanglements are presented in such a mature and matter-of-fact fashion helps to elevate the interpersonal drama much more capably than anything overtly sexual ever could. You may think this is a movie about one party inevitably getting jealous and causing a ruckus, but Gloomy Sunday has higher aspirations in mind.

The four leads are quite excellent across the board. Maroszan inhabits a character who could easily come across as a loose-moraled floozy (she does enjoy two lovers on a regular basis, don't forget), yet the actress brings an earthy beauty and intense sincerity that define the character from her first moment onscreen. Krol is easily her equal in another decidedly difficult role; his reaction to Ilona's and Andras' first affair showcases a dozen subtle emotions and instantly makes one admire the guy.

Dionist (as Andras) is suitably fresh-faced and enthusiastic at the outset, haunted and tortured as his song (allegedly) incites a wave of suicides across the globe. Some of the film's best work comes from Ben Becker as Hans Wieck, Laszlo's sadsack patron turned Nazi stooge-with-a-heart. Or has he? Portraying a Nazi officer as sympathetic and conflicted is a tough gig indeed, and Becker creates a character consistently fascinating to behold.

Based on the novel by Nick Barkow and deftly directed by German filmmaker Rolf Schubel, Gloomy Sunday is full of bleak material yet somehow manages to rise above it all and offer some true emotion and inspiration. And considering the downbeat themes being covered, that's an impressive feat indeed.

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originally posted: 11/07/03 16:16:34
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User Comments

1/16/09 hassan greatmovies indeed 4 stars
11/25/06 Bai Xubo A nice love story. The end is really fantastic! 4 stars
6/02/05 A.J. Wood First movie comparable to Casablanca 5 stars
5/30/05 Henry Gostony Sincerely worthy of an Academy Award. One of the best films I have ever seen. Casablanca? 5 stars
4/10/05 ADi Pop EXCELENT!! I can't thinking about it 5 stars
1/12/05 mpm thought provocing and intriguing 5 stars
10/26/04 Chen mingyi fatality 5 stars
10/04/04 Erika Marozsan should have get an Oscar for that 5 stars
9/19/04 Penny Friedman Best film in years! Can't wait for the DVD!! 5 stars
9/08/04 Zoltan Endre fantastic film based on a real song, wrapped in legend and set in paradise 5 stars
9/05/04 Paul Rozental Classic, almost a masterpiece 5 stars
7/23/04 arivoli very impressive story with strong characters 5 stars
6/28/04 a terrific movie 5 stars
6/22/04 Carol Gitterman sexy, slick, a well crafted story 5 stars
6/21/04 Miki excellent-we could not stop thinking of it and discussing it. 5 stars
6/16/04 LOU SCHWARTZ a doomed warm relationship caught up in events which undermined their dreams. with interest 5 stars
5/23/04 rmh grfeat movie experience 5 stars
5/06/04 Jordon Biener My wife, our movie group and I thought it was a magnificent piece of work. 5 stars
4/15/04 Stephen Mandell It dew me in almost immediately. A very good film. 5 stars
3/26/04 Elena A very good movie 4 stars
2/02/04 anton I love this picture ! Erika Maroszŕn is so beautiful and sensual ! 5 stars
1/26/04 M Gralnick Excellent, well done story 4 stars
1/06/04 Brian Entirely gripping. One of the best films of 2003. 5 stars
12/21/03 kapu s prabhakara Hypnotic 5 stars
12/12/03 Nikoletta LOVED IT! 5 stars
12/10/03 Neal Hugh Hurwitz Entrancing 5 stars
12/07/03 Rhea Bertelli Excellent--moving, thoughtful, well acted and photography special 5 stars
11/12/03 Paul Rosenberger wonderfully evocative of central Europe and its suave decadence 4 stars
2/13/01 Sam Jung it was pretty gloomy. very exotic 4 stars
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  DVD: 12-Sep-2006



Directed by
  Rolf Schubel

Written by
  Rolf Schubel
  Ruth Thoma

  Joachim Król
  Stefano Dionisi
  Ben Becker
  Erika Marozsan
  Wanja Mues
  Ulrike Grote

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