TIFF ’20 – ‘Preparations to be Together for an Unknown Period of Time’ Draws You in With the Quiet Unraveling of it’s Romantic Mystery

Viktor Bodó in the foreground. He sits glancing down at something while Natasa Stork is in the background, slightly out of focus, glancing at him intensely.

In Preparations to be Together for an Unknown Period of Time, we are presented with a peculiar mystery and obsession that slowly unravels in a compelling manner, but sadly as promising as the journey may be, the destination leaves a lot to be desired.

Hungarian director Lili Horvát throws us headfirst into this melodramatic psychological noir. Marta (Natasa Stork) is a brilliant brain surgeon who has become infatuated with a man she met at a conference some time ago. The heated meeting leads to the two planning on having a sexy rendezvous in Hungary at a later date, but when she arrives it appears that she has been stood up. When she tracks down her mystery man, he claims to have never met her. And thus Marta begins to mentally unravel and an obsession starts to develop.

Considering how this film comes together in the end, it it worth commending Horvát’s skills as a director, as she so thoroughly captures the audience’s attention as she slowly peels away the layers of this romantic mystery. Each frame of this film is beautifully captured with a brooding intensity. Marta’s bold blue eyes, fierce red lip, and perfectly put together dark hair leap off the screen —most notably in close-up scenes as she recounts her story and possible mental decline. The film is lacking in colour, but it is the enticing hues of dark blues and greys captured by Róbert Maly’s cinematography that draws you in. It is the balance of the darker shades that really give this psychological romance that noir-ish edge that begs you to pay attention.

Even if Preparations to be Together for an Unknown Period of Time does not go in the direction one expects as our lead becomes increasingly obsessed with a man who seems to have forgotten her — or has chosen to pretend to forget — the film has a strong grip on your attention. You can’t look away. Each moment pulling you in deeper and deeper into Marta’s mind. For that, the film not only earns its intriguingly long title but succeeds in totally captivating you in our heroine’s dilemma.

Preparations to be Together for an Unknown Period of Time screened at the virtual edition of Toronto international Film Festival 2020It has yet to find international distribution.

by Ferdosa Abdi

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