“I wanted this so badly, I made it all up”, Márta (Natasa Stork) tells her therapist. The renowned neurosurgeon, who had just returned to her home country of Hungary after years in the United States, chose to do so after briefly meeting fellow surgeon János (Viktor Bodó) at a medical convention. The two, who seem to have shared an instant connection, exchanged promises to meet at a sightseeing spot in Budapest a few weeks later. Márta kept her promise. János looked at her hopeful yet jetlagged face and blatantly told her he didn’t know who she was. 

Preparations to Be Together for an Unknown Period of Time is doused in anxiety from its very core. At forty years old, Márta is haunted by both biological and societal clocks, the overwhelming pressure leading her to completely upend her life at the prospect of a stable relationship. As this notion rapidly crumbles, the neurosurgeon begins to doubt her sanity, haunted yet again by ghosts of past traumas.

The doctor’s world is filled with mournful blue, from her favourite work shirt to the hues in every corner of her light-deprived apartment. Cinematographer Róbert Maly amps the melancholic claustrophobia through carefully constructed obstacles: a flight of stairs, a locked door, a busy road. Every element of Márta’s surroundings seems to serve as a barrier, keeping her away from not only a happy ending next to János but all hopes of a sound mind. 

Despite its initial firm grasp onto the dire reality of gaslighting, Preparations eventually loses its thread. What was an intricate portrait of how women are so often dismissed that they end up internalising disregard – blaming themselves for what is frequently the product of bias – ends up choosing to pump the brakes. Sadly, what it really needed was a heavy foot on the gas. Instead, it misses the finish line entirely. 

RATING: 3/5


INFORMATION

CAST:  Natasa Stork, Viktor Bodó, Benett Vilmányi

DIRECTOR: Lili Horvát

WRITER: Lili Horvát

SYNOPSIS: Márta, a forty-year-old neurosurgeon, falls in love. She leaves her shining American career behind and returns to Budapest to start a new life with the man. But the love of her life claims they have never met before.