SLIFF 2016 Review – DEMIMONDE
DEMIMONDE screens Friday, Nov. 4 at 7:00pm and Wednesday, Nov. 9 at 9:00pm as part of this year’s St. Louis International Film Festival. Ticket information for the November 4th show can be found HERE. Information for the November 9th screening can be found HERE.
In January 1914, a horrific murder shakes the city of Budapest: One of the city’s most famous courtesans, Elza Mágnás, has been strangled and her body thrown into the icy waters of the Danube. Chronicling the last four days of Elza’s life through the eyes of a young and naive maid, “Demimonde” — which is based on a true tale of love, passion, sex, and power — untangles the prostitute’s bizarrely complex relationships with her housekeeper, her sponsor, and her lover.
DEMIMONDE review by Cate Marquis
DEMIMONDE is an atmospheric, even Gothic, mystery set in the “demimonde” of early 20th century Budapest, a tale that begins with a dead body retrieved from a dark Danube River in snowy January.
Demimonde refers to the “half world” occupied by courtesans to the wealthy elite, the beautiful, cultured women of Colette’s “Gigi” or opera’s “La Boheme.” These women frequent the elegant theaters, restaurants and social haunts of their upper-class patrons yet remain at the fringes of respectable Victorian society. This story revolves around one such courtesan, Elza (Patricia Kovacs), the long-time mistress of a man of wealth and position named Max (Janos Kulka), her complex life, and her relationships with her middle-aged housekeeper (Dorka Gryllus) and young maid (Laura Dobrosi). Set in pre-war 1914 and based on a true story of a famous courtesan, the historic thriller presents a world at the edge of change, one in which both early cars and silent movies co-exist with Victorian social mores and horse-drawn carriages.
In his second film, director Attila Szasz delivers lush photography (by Andras Nagy) and period details framing a tale of passion, intrigue and revenge. Directed with a sure hand, the film also features fine acting performances. DEMIMONDE has won awards at film festivals for direction, acting and cinematography. The interpersonal dynamics, ambitions and complicated history between these characters makes for juicy, gripping drama and the fading days of this Victorian subculture are contrasted with themes of early feminism and shifting morality, all wrapped up with a glossy Gothic thriller ribbon.