Preparations to be Together for an Unknown Period of Time – movie review

Truth or fiction? I greatly appreciated the intensity and mystery in Lili Horvát’s film Preparations to be Together for an Unknown Period of Time. The director brings intrigue and I was genuinely left speculating as to what was real and what might not be.

Brilliant neurosurgeon Marta Vizy (Natasa Stork), meets the man of her dreams in fellow neurosurgeon Janos Drexler (Victor Bodo) at a conference. Turns out they’re both Hungarian, though Marta had migrated to the US. After spending the day together, they arrange to meet a month later in Budapest, where he works.  Marta impulsively decides to pack in 20 years’ work in the US and a great job to follow her heart. But when Marta arrives in Budapest, Janos doesn’t show up. When she tracks him down, he claims to have no knowledge of her.

Marta takes a rundown apartment in the Hungarian capital and finds work – below her standing – at the hospital where Janos works. That provokes suspicion. On one of her rounds, she questions a superior’s judgment and is put in her place. Then one case proves to be a game-changer. Janos is assigned to the case also and sees Marta do something that changes the patient’s outcome. After that he flits in and out of her life, frequently disappearing without explanation. Marta starts to question her own sanity and consults a therapist to try to make sense of what she’s going through. Is she delusional? Is Janos merely a figment of her imagination?

There’s more going on here than at first meets the eye. We won’t learn the truth until almost the end of the picture. Plaudits are due to scriptwriter and director Horvát for crafting such an engaging work.

Stork is excellent as the lead. She balances the measured nature of a surgeon with a level of anticipation and excitement that comes with finding “the one”. Bodo is convincing as the “game player” Janos. Also of interest in the cast is Bennett Vilmanyi, who plays Alex, the medical student son of the patient Marta helps save. He’s believable as the young man who shows more than a passing interest in Marta.

Preparations to be Together for an Unknown Period of Time fired up my imagination and maintained my interest. This is an enigmatic and intelligent piece of filmmaking with an appropriate title to match.

Alex First

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