Nine Months (1976)

A strongly feministic work, albeit a rather cold one, about a young Hungarian woman who must navigate an industrial job, toxic masculinity and social norms of marriage and child-rearing, directed with quiet authenticity by Marta Meszaros.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Review #2,165

Dir. Marta Meszaros
1976 | Hungary | Drama | 90 mins | 1.37:1 | Hungarian
Not rated – likely to be M18 for nudity

Cast: Lili Monori, Jan Nowicki, Gyula Szersen
Plot: Juli works in a factory while pursuing a course in agrarian science. Her manager falls in love with her and an affair develops.
Awards: Won FIPRESCI Prize – Parallel Section (Cannes); Won OCIC Award – Forum of New Cinema (Berlinale)
Distributor: Hungarian National Film Archive

Accessibility Index
Subject Matter: Moderate – Feminism, Gender Roles
Narrative Style: Straightforward
Pace: Slightly Slow
Audience Type: General Arthouse

Viewed: MUBI
Spoilers: No

This is already my fourth Marta Meszaros film after The Girl (1968), Binding Sentiments (1969) and Don’t Cry, Pretty Girls! (1970), and I think it’s my favourite so far. 

It’s the first film I’ve seen of hers that is shot in colour, and the visuals are incredibly striking, especially when they linger on the breathtaking Hungarian industrial district, with factories, railways, and lots of thick, billowing smoke. 

As ‘70s East European as you can get in terms of the aesthetics (somewhat reminiscent of the likes of early Kieslowski like 1979’s Camera Buff), Nine Months stars Lili Monori as Juli, an independent young woman who finds work in a factory. 

She catches the eye of her boss, who doesn’t hide the fact that he’s thinking of marriage.  As Juli’s past is revealed, the couple’s blossoming relationship slowly fractures. 

One could see Nine Months as a strongly feministic piece, following the strong-headed Juli as she navigates toxic masculinity, and the pressures and social norms of marriage and child-rearing. 

Meszaros’ film can feel rather cold though, partly due to Juli’s character, but it is for most parts engaging with Monori’s performance capturing the fears and anguish of being alone, possibly being a single mother with kids in tow in a highly-conservative country. 

The title suggests a pregnancy, but that doesn’t even begin to prepare viewers for what would come at the end of the film, especially if you are male.

Grade: B+

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