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“THOSE WHO REMAINED” Heartfelt and Compelling





Review by John Delia

Compelling and disturbing due to the historical period in Hungary with the occupation of the Russians following WWII, the film Those Who Remained tells a story about coming of age. The acting, direction and production is very good, especially since not a lot has been featured in films about the country’s takeover and the people who came under a different system of government.

September 17, 1948 in Budapest, Hungary and the country that had been in league with Germany is now in the hands of the Russians. Things are starting to change quickly for those who are living with the loss of loved ones and we find families separated. This is the case with 16-year-old Klara (Abigel Szoke) who had been taken in by her Aunt Olgi (Mari Nagy) following the disappearance of her family during the Holocaust. Others have been affected by the changes in Hungary and show signs of resistance toward their new government.

Károly Hajduk and Abigél Szõke in THOSE WHO  REMAINED from Menemsha Films

A gynecologist, Dr. Aladar (Károly Hajduk), has been delivering babies and treating women for some time and has survived throughout the war, but not without loss of his wife and children. On this day we find him with Olgi who has brought Klara to him for her first checkup being an adolescent. The young girl is told she has begun her puberty and he will check her again in 6 months. Enamored by the young girl due to memories of his own loss of family, the doctor tries to find solace in his dedication to the local Israelite Community Orphanage.

Sometime later Klara goes to visit Dr. Aladar and closing for the day he decides to walk her home while answering her questions. Being of a personal nature, he realizes that she has not been getting along with her aunt. Missing his young daughter he takes a liking to Klara who is brash and openly persuasive. Opening up to him about her conflicts with Aunt Olgi, he consoles her. She is taken by the man and tells him she live with him. Aladar decides to foster Kiara. It’s the beginning of a relationship that will become personal, each for a very different meaning leading to a different outcomes.

Károly Hajduk and Abigél Szõke in THOSE WHO REMAINED from Menemsha Films

Director Barnabás Tóth delivers a script about companionship that develops between the father figure and Klara’s growing love for him as a surrogate daughter. Even though it is a remote possibility that the two characters would have been able to attach with their feelings for each other, it takes a little imagination to accept. As the film progresses we find each compliant with what they envision is happening between them, one romantic the other psychological. While this may be the purpose that was intended by the writers, the film lacks pathos, feelings for what the two have experienced and a finality that could have been brought on more realistically.

Abigél Szõke as Klara in THOSE WHO REMAINED from Menemsha Films

I would have liked to know more about the main character’s hurt they experienced about each other’s loss. Maybe it was the need to pay close attention to the subtitles that was distracting, but I could not feel any real despair in Dr. Aladar. It was as if Klara was chosen by her aunt to bring solace to the doctor so he could accept his loss. In the meantime we find out that Klara’s may be only a surrogate while coming of age and has taken deeper love for the man who’s fostering her.

Those Who Remained has not been rated by the MPAA, but contains language, and brief nudity.

FINAL ANALYSIS: A compelling film that’s nicely directed. (3 out of 5 Stars)

Additional Film Information:
Cast: Károly Hajduk, Abigél Szõke, Mari Nagy
Directed by: Barnabás Tóth
Written by: Klára Muhi and Barnabás Tóth
Genre: Drama, Foreign Film
MPAA Rating: Not Rated, contains brief nudity, some sensuality, language
Running Time: 1 hr. 23 min.
Opening Date: February 14, 2020
Distributed by: Menemsha Films
Released in: Theaters in Hungarian with English Subtitles

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