Dorka Gryllus, Dorottya Udvaros, Attila Kaszas, Lajos Kovacs
WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY
NR (Equiv. to "R")
Facets Video (DVD)
Scene selection; Cast biographies
Hungarian w/English Subtitles
"School of Senses" Review
Based upon a novel by Peter Eszterhazy (writing under the pseudonym Lili Csokonai), this erotic tale of passion and betrayal follows Lili (Dorka Gryllus), a young gypsy girl who falls madly in love with a dashing salesman (Attila Kaszas) who introduces her to life's sensual pleasures. When Lili discovers that her beau is engaged to another woman, she begins a spiral downward involving a multitude of sexual liaisons that are portrayed in ways both sensual and hauntingly honest.
The latest remastered work coming from the increasingly wondrous catalogue of fine cinema from Facets Video, Hungarian writer/director Andras Solyom's School of Senses
weaves together fine storytelling, stunning cinematography and electrifying music into a film that gives dignity, respect and passion to what is essentially a traditional coming-of-age tale.
An excellent example of 90's Hungarian filmmaking, School of Senses was filmed on location in Budapest, a locale used to full advantage by D.P. Tibor Mathe, whose layered camera work and excellent use of lighting lends the film a naturalism that powerfully brings home Lili's haunted views on her own life.
Lead Dorka Gryllus is especially tender and beautiful in the film's first half, gently capturing the young gypsy girl's innocence and passionate awakening. While she convinces less as Lili's liaisons spiral downward, her hypnotic beauty is practically enough to continue watching as her story unfolds and by the time her performance weakens odds are you will have become so invested in Lili's story that you'll barely notice. As her beau, Attila Kaszas lacks the emotional range to really convince though he does manage to nicely capture the growing distance between the two. Supporting players Lajos Kovacs and Kati Lazar are far more successful, giving the film a necessary emotional resonance that builds in their relatively brief time on screen.
Far more beautifully written and intelligently constructed than equivalent American cinema "coming of age" type stories, Solyom's School of Senses
unfolds like a haunting, sensual autobiography weaving together flashbacks and memories into a memorable and touching cinematic pleasure.
For more information, visit the Facets Video website
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic