I am not your usual film critic. While I certainly approach reviews with a critical eye, I aspire to fully surrendering to a filmmaker's world while viewing their film. I make a conscious choice to surrender to the atmosphere, the mood, the words and the action before my eyes. I would rather experience a film than process it...I openly admit that, at least once a week, I find myself staring up at the screen with tears streaming down my face.
In short, I don't just review a film...I envelope myself inside its world and, thus, when I review a film I'm not only reviewing the critical aspects of filmmaking, but the experience of the film itself.
This explanation, perhaps unnecessary, illustrates the wonder and magic and brilliance of "Now You See Me, Now You Don't", a 30-minute short film written and directed by Hungarian commercial director Attila Szasz.
Even moreso than with "Zombie Prom," the only other short film I've given my elusive 4-star review, "Now You See Me, Now You Don't" is a film that will be even more deeply appreciated if you surrender yourself to it. Seldom has a short film simultaneously stimulated both my emotions and my intellect so completely, but "Now You See Me, Now You Don't" is one of the most intellectually stimulating, emotionally satisfying short films I've ever had the privilege of seeing.
As one could reasonably expect from a short film, the basic plotline is deceptively familiar and framed in such a way that evokes the psychological thrills of M. Night Shyamalan and the suspense of a Hitchockian mystery intertwined with the apparent simplicity of a Coen Brothers film. The end result is, without daring give away the story, that nothing is as it seems but it really is.
Szasz has perfectly blended both a psychological thriller and a family drama and, as a result, created a film far more suspenseful because of the undeniable emotional investment that is created.
"Now You See Me, Now You Don't" centers on a husband (Erno Fekete) and wife (Dora Letay) and their young son (Vitez Abraham). The husband is a research scientist working long hours in his lab, the mother seen frequently hovering over boiling water while the young boy plays precariously nearby.
The intrafamilial emotional strains are obvious, the chasm becoming obviously wider with each interaction. With marvelous intentionality and patience, Szasz paints his film with subtle strokes that betray the intensity that dwells underneath the surface. There seems not to be a single shot that is wasted, indeed the suspense is often breathtaking from one scene to the next.
"Now You See Me, Now You Don't" is intelligently scripted, simply and authentically acted and beautifully designed. The final scenes, reminiscent of last year's masterful "Mother of Mine," are scenes that, quite simply, you will not forget.
Having played in nearly 30 film festivals already, Szasz's award-winning short is worth the effort for you to see. For the discerning moviegoer, it's a shining example of the up-and-coming Hungarian movie scene and a writer/director destined to be one of its central figures.
"Now You See Me, Now You Don't" captured the Jury Prize for Best Dramatic Short during the Lake County Film Festival.