On Body and Soul

On Body and Soul
On Body and Soul
Directed by Ildikó Enyedi
Starring Alexandra Borbély, Géza Morcsányi, Réka Tenki, Zoltán Schneider, Ervin Nagy, Itala Békés, Éva Bata, Pál Mácsai, Zsuzsa Járó and Nóra Rainer-Micsinyei
In UK Cinemas September 22nd, 2017

by Joanna Orland

An exploration of dreams and what it is to have a body and a soul, Ildikó Enyedi’s new film is a peculiar romantic drama. Set in an abattoir, an unlikely workplace romance seems doomed from the start: There is an initial attraction between Endre (Morcsányi) and Maria (Borbély), but he has given up on romance while she has a whole host of issues including what appears to be an isolating form of autism and OCD. They have nothing in common, except for their dreams.

Every night, Endre and Maria share the same dream of deer foraging in a forest. Through a series of contrived circumstances, they discover that they both visit the same dream universe at night, and then attempt to extend their connection into the waking hours. This proves to be very difficult as Maria finds socializing, and even human touch to be a challenge.

While the premise of On Body and Soul may be quite outlandish, it becomes a highly engaging romance story, set to a backdrop of grueling imagery – blood, flesh and meat, as animals are slaughtered on repeat. Director Enyedi pulls no punches having filmed actual footage in an abattoir, making some of this film very difficult to watch. Bloody imagery extends throughout, as does animal imagery – connecting the human soul and body to that of an animal. ‘If we both bleed, do we both not have a soul?’ is a question posed. This may be a very heavy-handed way to produce a film about vegetarianism, but it’s a wonderful story in its own right outside of the message.

The questioning of animal souls is not the only takeaway from the beautifully shot On Body and Soul. The notion of love and relationships is explored uniquely as while in person it’s impossible to see what connection Endre and Maria could have, in their dreams they are a natural couple. Does attraction go beyond logic and have a kismetic element? Can relationships ever live up to the dream of what you think them to be?

There is much food for thought in On Body and Soul – preferably the vegetarian sort.


Leave a Reply