"Time Stands Still," '60s Hungary on film, borrows America's '50s graffiti: Elvis and leather jackets, skinny ties and greasy hair, slow-dancing and going all the way in parked cars. And "Jailhouse Rock," its anthem of hormonal harmony, unites the countries and the decades.
It's funny, forceful film about kids growing up after the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. It's about political awakening and incipient change, but mostly it's about puberty: posturing for peers, groping and coping. The protagonists, all 18 and under, would be as much at home in "Breaking Away" as in "Time Stands Still." They're an appealing cast of amateurs -- convincingly awkward, physically attractive young punks.
The movie's departure point is a favorite among Hungarian filmmakers of director Peter Gothar's generation. He explores the repercussions of the revolution, with its wave of defections and broken families, its forbidden pop and eerie neon lights.
Two brothers, their mother and her lover are the focus of the film, as seen through the eyes of 15-year-old Denes (Istvan Znamenak). It's a seductive, rebellious schoolroom pastiche: Denes aches for Magda (Aniko Ivan) to the tune of Paul Anka, inhales cigarettes and chalk dust and soaks up more vodka than propaganda.
As for the look of it, cinematographer Lajos Koltai's palette of moody blues sets visual limits on our freedom. But there are no bounds to his talents, nor on Gothar's. Repression, as the not-so-happy ending seems to say, comes from within as well as from without.
TIME STANDS STILL -- At the Inner Circle.