Ildikó Enyedi's On Body and Soul is fearless, unadulterated filmmaking at its finest, a peculiar, slightly off-beat romance between two souls adrift that manages to be transcendental in its deconstruction related to the catharsis of love. The story between the reclusive aging Endre, the small manager of a meat packaging plant, and the shy newcomer Maria, the plant's cryptic new quality-control inspector, On Body and Soul showcases a timid, unorthodox romance demonstrating the fragility of emotional intimacy, and the fear associated with the potential pain which may follow placing oneself in such a vulnerable state. On Body and Soul lives in a world perhaps best described one of magical realism, where love and romantic fate feel predestined for these characters at times, yet throughout the narrative their slowly evolving relationship still feels frail, a house of cards which could crumble under the weight of both internal and exterior pressures, whether it be from personal insecurities or environmental forces. One of the best examples of how On Body and Soul creates is singular tone is through it use of its outre setting for a romance, a slaughterhouse. Enyedi uses this setting as an artifice to accentuate his themes, as this environment provides a beautiful juxtaposition, one contrasting Endre and Maria's tender, slow-evolving relationship with that of harsh, visceral brutality of the world in which they operate in. This juxtaposition in the film evokes a powerful symbolic representation about courtship itself - the tenderness, fragility, and innocence of this budding romance between Endre and Maria contrasted against the harsh, sudden, nature of the exterior world, one which is removed from the idyllic nature of their shared spiritual connection. At its core, On Body and Soul works so well due in large part to its wholly transfixing main characterizations, with both Endre and Mariea being individuals whom the audience becomes enamored with, taken aback by their insecurities and quirks, hopeful for their potential happiness. Through these characterizations, On Body and Soul delivers an astute, raw, and honest examination of the existential nature of love itself, showcasing how the potential jubilation of finding companionship is muted for these two characters by their own fears and insecurities. Love and companionship is a foreign/alien concept for Maria- she pines for it, she recognizes her sense of longing and her feelings she has for Endre yet she is fearful of its raw power. Endre comes from a slightly different place yet is driven by the same fear. Being older, he is fearful of the uncertainty of something new, with his own cynicism about his potential for happiness getting in the way, a dark, negative force which almost leads to a grave tragedy for both individuals. One of the most peculiar yet emotionally affecting romances I've seen in ages, Ildikó Enyedi's On Body and Soul is a transcendental experience due to its ability to use an unconventional artifice to deliver a spiritual and intellectual analysis of love and companionship on an existential level.
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