Eye For Film >> Movies >> Pleasant Days (2002) Film Review
Reviewed by: Gator MacReady
If the projectionist mixed up the reels and showed this film completely out of order, I guarantee it would still make precious little sense. If you are turned off by European arthouse movies then this is more likely to confirm your dispassion rather than change your beliefs.
I've said it before and I'll say it again. Movies can be either good or bad and their financial origin has nothing to do with the story told. Hollywood movies and independent movies and European movies all have the same chance as each other. It's the story and skill behind the film that matters. Pleasant Days has none. Or should it be excused because it's not a movie, it's avant-garde cinema? No, of course not. It's still total drek.
Péter has just been released from prison and doesn't seem to have any desire to get his life in order. His main ambition is to go to the beach. He's raising the bar just a little too high, don't you think? He stays with his sister Maria, with whom he has an odd relationship. Bathing together, with their hands all over each other's naked bodies, is not an everyday thing. Why they are like this is never explained. It just IS!
Maria's pregnant friend Marja gives birth on the floor of Maria's laundrette and Péter witness this. He fancies Marja, but she rejects his advances. Maria agrees to take care of the child, so she can trick her boyfriend into believing the baby is his. Meanwhile Marja goes back to her own boyfriend János, a man who provides her with a place to stay and no bills. As long as she is faithful to him, which she's not. And this causes János to flip out and cuss Péter, whom he has employed at his chop shop.
The most difficult thing to understand about this mess of a movie is not the random locations chosen for tedious dialogue scenes - you'll constantly be asking yourself, "Where are we? What is this? What are they doing there? What is going on?" - nor the drunken photography - the cameraman must have been seriously liquored up - nor the mumbled dialogue, but why a girl like Marja, or Maria, would hang around men who are beastly to them. Marja is slapped about so much by most of the male cast, it becomes an exercise in misogyny. Who can honestly take pleasure in watching this? She is naked quite a lot, too. And men abuse her when she has no clothes on. They abuse her all the time. For what purpose?
A lengthy scene has János tie Marja to a chair in his portacabin office. She is topless and obviously not enjoying herself. So why does she stay with him? Why does she hang around with Péter, when he calls her the "c" word, the "f" word and repeatedly says "whore" and "slut"? It's all nonsense.
I made the comment about the photography and I know there are some out there who will defend the movie and claim it to be a sort of documentary. But it's still certain to give you motion sickness. Most of the time documentaries are realistic, portraying life in a convincing, actual way. Pleasant Days meanders and goes wherever it wants, not developing a storyline, nor making sense, while failing to entertain on any level.
Too many European arthouse movies are this way. And here comes another. It's miserable, deals with lowlifes and is full of horrid sets and locations. I'm sure there are nice places in Hungary. According to this, it's all rust, parking lots and blocks of flats.
Not a good ad.Reviewed on: 15 Aug 2002