You’re A Deer, Dear: The Film, “On Body and Soul”

What if there was an actual manifestation that it was two peoples’ destiny to be together? In life no such manifestation exists; in Ildiko Enyedi‘s superb Hungarian film, On Body and Soul (2017), it does. Here, a taciturn, educated woman, Maria (Alexandra Borbely), who is afraid of physical intimacy, starts having dreams in which she is a female deer in a forest. Her colleague at a slaughterhouse business, the low-key, moderately disabled Endre (Geza Morcsanyi), is having the same dreams, wherein he is a male deer, with Maria’s deer. After the two learn about this, they are naturally intrigued and they presently intuit that they ought to, well, love each other. But how is the repressed, backward Maria to do this?

The deers’ forest in the dreams is patently idyllic. The slaughterhouse where Maria and Endre work, where animal bodies are bloodied and carved up and where flawed people walk around, is far from idyllic. It’s just necessary. The idyl, the region of the “soul,” however, is what is drawing the would-be lovers.

On Body and Soul is as well-structured as it is unusual. Estimably shot by Enyedi (a woman), it makes its points visually with precision and care. That Enyedi seems talented as a writer makes me wonder how good are the feature films she directed decades ago; her last one before this 2017 picture was released in 1999! She has a lot to show for this break.

(In Hungarian with English subtitles, and offered on Netflix)

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