Sunday 20 June 2021

Don't Cry, Pretty Girls! [1970]

 Márta Mészáros didn’t just make a stunning volte face with her third film Don’t Cry, Pretty Girls! – vis-à-vis the form and texture of her remarkable first two features, The Girl and Binding Sentiments – it perhaps remains a fascinating oddity in her overall oeuvre too given her love for restrained, understated and emotionally delicate portrayals. Breezy, lively, freewheeling, boisterous and even anarchic in its tone and flavour, and made in the form of an absorbing long-form music video – in a way renascent of A Hard Day’s Night – it provided a lovely homage to Hungary’s then counterculture movement. But, be that as it may, the jaunty tone, rebellious spirit, free love and zeitgeist were delightfully complemented with archetypal elements of her filmography – working-class backgrounds, quietly defiant women protagonists grappling with their desires and dilemmas, political subtexts, deep pragmatism – thus making this a Mészáros work alright despite the fabulous stylistic flourishes. The film followed a group of hip youngsters who work at factories during the day and attend throbbing Beat music gigs once free. Central to this gang is a gentle-natured young guy (Márk Zala) and his shy, soft-spoken, striking fiancée (Jaroslava Schallerová) who’re engaged even if their relationship is tentative at best; things, however, become teasingly complicated – and funny too – when she starts getting attracted to a dashing, debonair cellist (Lajos Balázsovits). Their ménage à trois – with all its saucy, neurotic silliness – and the ensuing coming-of-age were juxtaposed with a series of intoxicating, irreverent, poetic folk and jazz-based songs performed by Hungarian bands of that era. The lovely B/W photography – filled with strikingly composed tableaux, soft close-ups, gently roving shots, etc. – made the movie all the more sensuous, intimate and affecting.






Director: Marta Meszaros

Genre: Romantic Comedy/Musical

Language: Hungarian

Country: Hungary

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