Girl, The (1968)

While rather light on story, there’s a refreshing, liberating quality to Meszaros’ feature debut about a young Hungarian woman’s search for romantic and psychological fulfilment. 

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Review #2,146

Dir. Marta Meszaros
1968 | Hungary | Drama | 80 mins | 1.37:1 | Hungarian
Not rated – likely to be PG13 for some sexual references

Cast: Kati Kovacs, Teri Horvath, Adam Szirtes
Plot: On receiving a letter from her mother, a quiet working-class girl leaves the state orphanage in Budapest where she grew up and takes a trip to the rural countryside to visit her.
Awards: Official Selection (Locarno); Directors’ Fortnight (Cannes)
Source: Hungarian National Film Archive

Accessibility Index
Subject Matter: Moderate – Family, Past
Narrative Style: Straightforward
Pace: Slightly Slow
Audience Type: General Arthouse

Viewed: MUBI
Spoilers: No


Thanks MUBI for introducing me to Marta Meszaros, a veteran East European female filmmaker whom I’m hearing about for the first time. 

Coming from Hungary, Meszaros’ filmmaking style feels fresh and liberating, at least judging from her first feature, The Girl.  I would describe the style of The Girl as part-French New Wavey vibe, part traditional-looking drama. 

Shot partly in a Hungarian rural town, we get to see a range of scenic views as a young working-class woman (famous Hungarian singer-turned-actress Kati Kovacs) travels out of the city to meet with her estranged biological mother, who has since remarried. 

Passing her off as a long-lost niece, the mother is fearful of her present husband knowing about the truth, while also being reluctant to accept the physical presence of her daughter. 

The first feature film made by a woman in Hungary.

While The Girl is rather light on story and works more on the level of plot (that also doesn’t quite amount to anything substantial), the most striking thing about the picture is Kovacs’ magnetic performance and her sharp, attractive face. 

Her look and style reminds me of Anna Karina in the early Godard films like Vivre sa vie (1962) and Le petit soldat (1963). 

Her character is on a search for fulfilment, be it psychological as when she tries to connect with the forgotten past through her engagement with the theme of family; or through romance as when she tries to suss out certain men who generously hit on her—you won’t believe the number of men flirting with her throughout the film. 

Grade: B+


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