The Two of Them is a bittersweet, tender and delicately layered tapestry on an unlikely and surprisingly deep female friendship. That they overcome seemingly irreconcilable differences – in behaviours, choices and experiences, shaped by their contrasting social classes – through the commonality of their womenhood, added layered feminist undertones to the film. In that respect – plot outlines, understated tonalities, and the heartfelt bond between an older and a younger woman bound by their shared desire to either retain or rediscover their individual identities – it reminded me a lot of Mészáros’ Adoption, and also Aparna Sen’s Paromitar Ek Din. Mária (Marina Vlady) is an elegant, serene, articulate middle-aged woman who runs a garment centre employing young women and single mothers, and is seemingly happily married even though fault lines are discernible given her smug husband’s disdain for her work that keeps her away from home. Juli (Lili Monori) is a young, striking, impulsive, fiercely independent woman in a tempestuous relationship with an alcoholic man (Jan Nowicki) who can’t stay off the bottle. The characterization of Juli – in the way she’s both trapped and liberated, and refuses to be a victim – was reminiscent of the namesake character in Mészáros’ magnificent previous film Nine Months; and Monori’s terrific turn here, too, had parallels to her ferocious and extraordinary performance there. Vlady was wonderful too in portraying Mária’s gradually implosive character arc. The luminously shot film, though tad erratic at times, balanced between melancholy and turbulence with an endearing but ardent feminist stance. As an aside, Kati Kovacs had a cameo as a pop singer, and Zsuzsa Czinkóczi – who’d appear later as the unforgettable protagonist in the extraordinary ‘Diary Trilogy’ – played Juli’s little distraught daughter.
Director: Marta Meszaros
Genre: Drama/Social Drama/Marital Drama