Those Who Remained — Learn To Live Again

REVIEW/NATION
by Diana Ushkar
20.05.2021
Those who remained (2019) is an Oscar-nominated film about love in post-war Hungary. Many films focus on the horrors and sufferings of the Holocaust years, but the majority of them tells us about the deaths and irreparable losses they did to the world, but very few share stories of those who managed to survive and return from the camps. This harrowing drama fills that gap. The director Barnabás Tóth explores the achingly tender connection between two Holocaust survivors and tells the story of two traumatized lonely souls, whose communication helps them to heal and provides them with someone to live for.
After the war, Dr Aládar "Aldó" Kőrner (Károly Hajduk), at the age of 42, returns to his hospital practice. His wife and two small boys perished in the camps, and he lives alone, with only his medical journals for company, until Klára (Abigél Szőke), a 16-year-old rebel girl, appears in his life.

We first meet Klára in Aldó's clinic full of sharp sarcasm and reckless nature. Her life doesn't bring her any rays of happiness — she's dismissive of her school classes and classmates, unhappy in the home she shares with her always-worried great-aunt Ogi (Mari Nagy) and above all, in denial about the fate of her parents, to whom she continues to write long letters. She is bold and young and doesn't hesitate to seek the doctor's company or ask him controversial questions about his lifestyle and even his clothing choice. But Klára is also an intelligent old soul and her statement that "It's harder for us than those who left" resonates with Aldó. Klára also finds she can talk to Aldó about anything: religion, the past, her parents and the little sister that she feels guilty about being unable to save. Aldó, for his part, shares his pre-war photo albums with Klára — a beautifully directed, wordless scene. Once, when he gently touches her shoulder to cheer her up, she hugs him out of a desperate need for warmth and reassurance. This sort of compulsive physicality persists when, refusing to return to where she was staying, Klara essentially moves into Aldo's flat of her own accord.
Based on a 2004 novel by Zsuzsa F. Varkonyi, the film sets some very delicate issues, most centrally the age difference — but this is not another Lolita adaptation. In this movie we see a chaste, father-daughter love, a story about the coming of unlikely, unbidden hope. "Why do you live?" she asks him. "Is there any real answer to that?" he responds. But, despite all odds, they find a reason — together.
Set in the period between 1948 and 1953, the drama also takes on the purges of Hungarian politician Mátyás Rákosi's Communist regime, which brings some trouble to the main characters. Once a school teacher meets Klára and Aldó in a park, Klára's head in his lap and his hand stroking her hair, this is scandalized. From that moment so far, Aldó is near to be hunted by the government. Even one of his friends and colleagues, Pista (Andor Lukáts), the foster father to two survivor daughters himself, reveals that he has joined the Party and been asked to report on Aldó. Realizing that they've been living in a little space of safety between the Nazis and the commies, Klara pleads with Aldo to keep things the same, but he takes quiet steps to gently shift the nature and momentum of their relationship.

Apart from the magnificent plot, the actors' work is fascinating. In her first leading film role, Abigél Szőke is remarkable. She makes Klára's energy, pain and intelligence palpable, all the while being touchingly tuned to the emotional shadings of Aldó. A prize-winning theater thesp, Hajduk is equally fine, giving heart-breaking nuance to what is a more interior-directed role. Together they manage to make the story authentic and heartbreaking.
Shot mostly in interiors or empty dark streets, Those who remained does a lot with very little. Gábor Marosi's intimate widescreen lensing is attuned to the minutest detail of the performers' expressions and the dusty shades suggest the period as do the costumes. The film focuses on every little detail: what the characters eat and drink, what interior surrounds them, what is depicted on the photos that are so precious to them — all this creates a view of life in a very particular time and place. Though it also sets a dramatic routine in which two lost souls apart from doing jobs or visiting school desperately try to find the sign of hope.
 
Those Who Remained — Learn To Live Again

REVIEW/NATION
by Diana Ushkar
20.05.2021
Those who remained (2019) is an Oscar-nominated film about love in post-war Hungary. Many films focus on the horrors and sufferings of the Holocaust years, but the majority of them tells us about the deaths and irreparable losses they did to the world, but very few share stories of those who managed to survive and return from the camps. This harrowing drama fills that gap. The director Barnabás Tóth explores the achingly tender connection between two Holocaust survivors and tells the story of two traumatized lonely souls, whose communication helps them to heal and provides them with someone to live for.
After the war, Dr Aládar "Aldó" Kőrner (Károly Hajduk), at the age of 42, returns to his hospital practice. His wife and two small boys perished in the camps, and he lives alone, with only his medical journals for company, until Klára (Abigél Szőke), a 16-year-old rebel girl, appears in his life.

We first meet Klára in Aldó's clinic full of sharp sarcasm and reckless nature. Her life doesn't bring her any rays of happiness — she's dismissive of her school classes and classmates, unhappy in the home she shares with her always-worried great-aunt Ogi (Mari Nagy) and above all, in denial about the fate of her parents, to whom she continues to write long letters. She is bold and young and doesn't hesitate to seek the doctor's company or ask him controversial questions about his lifestyle and even his clothing choice. But Klára is also an intelligent old soul and her statement that "It's harder for us than those who left" resonates with Aldó. Klára also finds she can talk to Aldó about anything: religion, the past, her parents and the little sister that she feels guilty about being unable to save. Aldó, for his part, shares his pre-war photo albums with Klára — a beautifully directed, wordless scene. Once, when he gently touches her shoulder to cheer her up, she hugs him out of a desperate need for warmth and reassurance. This sort of compulsive physicality persists when, refusing to return to where she was staying, Klara essentially moves into Aldo's flat of her own accord.

Based on a 2004 novel by Zsuzsa F. Varkonyi, the film sets some very delicate issues, most centrally the age difference — but this is not another Lolita adaptation. In this movie we see a chaste, father-daughter love, a story about the coming of unlikely, unbidden hope. "Why do you live?" she asks him. "Is there any real answer to that?" he responds. But, despite all odds, they find a reason — together.
Set in the period between 1948 and 1953, the drama also takes on the purges of Hungarian politician Mátyás Rákosi's Communist regime, which brings some trouble to the main characters. Once a school teacher meets Klára and Aldó in a park, Klára's head in his lap and his hand stroking her hair, this is scandalized. From that moment so far, Aldó is near to be hunted by the government. Even one of his friends and colleagues, Pista (Andor Lukáts), the foster father to two survivor daughters himself, reveals that he has joined the Party and been asked to report on Aldó. Realizing that they've been living in a little space of safety between the Nazis and the commies, Klara pleads with Aldo to keep things the same, but he takes quiet steps to gently shift the nature and momentum of their relationship.

Apart from the magnificent plot, the actors' work is fascinating. In her first leading film role, Abigél Szőke is remarkable. She makes Klára's energy, pain and intelligence palpable, all the while being touchingly tuned to the emotional shadings of Aldó. A prize-winning theater thesp, Hajduk is equally fine, giving heart-breaking nuance to what is a more interior-directed role. Together they manage to make the story authentic and heartbreaking.
Shot mostly in interiors or empty dark streets, Those who remained does a lot with very little. Gábor Marosi's intimate widescreen lensing is attuned to the minutest detail of the performers' expressions and the dusty shades suggest the period as do the costumes. The film focuses on every little detail: what the characters eat and drink, what interior surrounds them, what is depicted on the photos that are so precious to them — all this creates a view of life in a very particular time and place. Though it also sets a dramatic routine in which two lost souls apart from doing jobs or visiting school desperately try to find the sign of hope.
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