“Preparations to be Together for an Unknown Period of Time,” now playing on digital TIFF Bell Lightbox and across Canada virtually and theatres, may have the longest title yet this year, but director Lili Horvát doesn’t stretch out the story. In just 94 minutes her romantic mystery is a tightly told story, heavy on the Hitchcockian intrigue.
In Hungarian with English subtitles, the film centres on 40-year-old neurosurgeon Márta Vizy (Natasa Stork). When we first meet her, she’s waiting for a rendezvous with a man she had a brief but torrid affair with during a medical conference. He’s a no show, and later, when confronted he claims to have never met her.
The story seems to be pointing its characters in the same direction as pulpy movies like “Fatal Attraction” as Márta cyber-stalks her mysterious lover, delving into every aspect of his life. But before she boils a rabbit on his stove, the film contorts, offering twists and turns that cast doubt on everything that came before.
Stylish, atmospheric and well-acted, “Preparations to be Together for an Unknown Period of Time” finds the crossroads where fixation and perception meet. Márta’s passion forces the viewer to ponder the blurred line between obsession and love, and wonder why and how she crossed it. The film offers no answers, just tantalizing clues as to why Márta finds herself on this path in life.
“Preparations to be Together for an Unknown Period of Time,” which is Hungary’s official entry for the international feature film category at the Academy Awards, is a study in alienation lead by an interesting performance from Stork who takes an enigmatic character and finds her humanity. It’s coolly effective and yet burns with a passionate heart.