Explanation for Everything (Magyarázat Mindenre)
The third feature from Hungarian director Gábor Reisz (who co-wrote the script alongside Éva Schulze), Explanation for Everything is a thoughtful examination of the political tensions dividing modern-day Hungary. Set during summer in Budapest, the film centres around 18-year-old high school student Ábel (Adonyi-Walsh Gáspár) as he’s about to take his final exam. However, when he fumbles and freezes during the test, he blames his poor performance on his history teacher, Jakab (András Rusznák), calling attention to a nationalist pin he accidentally left on his suit jacket. The story is picked up by a reporter (Rebeka Hatházi), and the student finds himself in the middle of the heated political divide.
Instead of choosing to side with one voice in the debate, Reisz maintains a strictly neutral role by framing events from the perspective of several characters. In addition to Ábel, his nationalist father György (István Znamenák) and his vocally left-wing teacher serve as mouthpieces for each side of the argument. Before the reporter is even properly introduced into the narrative, Reisz takes his time to establish both Jakab and György as fleshed-out characters, each with their own lives and struggles. Reisz and Schulze do a superb job at underpinning where their perspectives on current politics come from in a way that makes each character sympathetic. There are no villains in this drama, there are only human beings unwilling to understand the other’s opinion (an observation that can easily be applied to the wider political landscape).
As poignant and carefully thought-out as this movie’s themes are, it takes far too long for the script to arrive at the meat of its subject matter. The first hour is dedicated to showing how the lives of the three main protagonists interconnect in the run-up to Ábel’s exam. While this time is spent laying out the characters, there’s nothing the opening that the second act doesn’t do better; especially when the film abandons the interconnecting structure, this entire section could have been substantially trimmed down without losing anything that makes the rest of the script work so well.
While it may take its time getting there, Explanation for Everything serves as an in-depth and honest look at how modern politics can so easily tear society apart with hatred.
Explanation for Everything (Magyarázat Mindenre) does not have a UK release date yet.
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