As someone who wrote a short novel subtitled A Tale from the Fringe of Reality, it’s not surprising that I would be attracted to a film about two people who discover that each night they share the same dream. Endre is the financial director of a slaughterhouse and Mária is the newly-hired quality control inspector. Endre seems resigned that his life is not what he hoped it might have been. Mária is extremely shy, socially awkward and obsessive-compulsive.
One day it’s discovered that someone has stolen a vial of bovine sex stimulant. The police are called in, as is a corporate psychiatrist who interviews each slaughterhouse employee. In the course of his interview, Endre describes a recurring dream in which he is a stag, with a doe nearby, in a quiet, snow-covered forest. When Mária gets her turn, she describes the same dream, but from the doe’s point-of-view. The psychiatrist assumes they are playing a prank on her, but when she calls them together, Endre and Mária are stunned to discover their shared unconscious.
The painfully awkward and touching path that Endre and Mária follow to try to come together is contrasted with the brutal and gory daily work at the slaughterhouse.
After watching Of Body and Soul, I couldn’t help but think about the characters’ shared dreams as a metaphor for less literal shared dreams. Walking down the street in The Hague (which is where I happened to see the film), I looked at peoples’ faces and wondered how often we pass by strangers without realizing that this one or that one has the same hopes and dreams that we do.
Director Ildikó Enyedi’s first feature film in 18 years, Of Body and Soul won the top prize at the Berlin Film Festival.