An older woman and a younger woman connect and find comfort in each other’s strengths as their husbands fail them in this intimate drama by the ever perceptive Marta Meszaros.
Dir. Marta Meszaros
1977 | Hungary | Drama | 94 mins | 1.66:1 | Hungarian
Not rated – likely to be NC16 for some sexuality
Cast: Marina Vlady, Lili Monori, Jan Nowicki
Plot: A young woman, married to a volatile alcoholic, has a competing claim on her affections from an older woman who tries to protect her and her daughter.
Source: Hungarian National Film Archive
Subject Matter: Moderate – Women, Marriage
Narrative Style: Straightforward
Pace: Slightly Slow
Audience Type: General Arthouse
Also known as Women, The Two of Them is Marta Meszaros’ follow-up to Nine Months (1976), which also stars Lili Monori whose character she plays share the same first name, Juli.
In fact, one might even regard The Two of Them as a ‘sequel’ of sorts, happening several years later, as there doesn’t seem to be much change to Juli’s characterisation.
She plays a young woman with a child in tow, trapped in a love-hate relationship with her alcoholic husband. Their love is passionate but also destructive as Juli tries to seek solace in an older woman, Maria (Marina Vlady), who is in charge of a boarding house for girls.
Maria, also having marital issues of her own, however slight, sees this connection with Juli as a duty from one woman to another, which inadvertently transforms her in some way.
Once again, Meszaros has made a film about the trials and tribulations that women have to face every day as they struggle with their responsibilities as ‘mothers’ and ‘wives’. As the males around fail them, the strength of comfort and intimacy between the two of them provide mutual support.
It’s a perceptive work by one of East European cinema’s most prolific female directors that calls for more empathy and understanding towards one another, not just between men and women, but also women and women.