On one balmy summer’s day in a small Hungarian village finding its feet again after World War II, the people prepare for the wedding: Arpad (Tasnadi), the son of Istvan (Rudolf), the village’s clerk/big shot/bully, is marrying a local woman much to Istvan’s wife Anna’s (Nagy-Kalozy) chagrin, as she was engaged only recently to a soldier and fears the young woman has eyes on her son’s drugstore. Into this mix come two unknown Jewish men (Ivan Angelusz and Marcell Nagy) and the town fear they are the heirs to properties in the area, properties that were distributed among the villagers when the Nazis deported the village’s Jews to concentration camps…
Ferenc Torok’s engrossing drama explores anti-Semitism, pointing out that the Nazis (who are absent from the film) merely exploited anti-Jewish sentiment that prevailed before they overran Eastern Europe, a sentiment that didn’t disappear when they were beaten back. “Can’t get rid of them,” one character mutters when news arrives that two Jewish men have arrived at the train station, while a mother rushes about the house grabbing cutlery to hide: if they have to return the house they’re not giving up the silver. Torok peels away the friendly façade of the village layer by layer and finds a corrupt people who hold dark secrets.
Bride Rozsika (Tunde Szaltony) still harbours feelings for Jancsi (Tamas Szabo Kimmel) and plans to continue their clandestine affair after the wedding. Anna is a secret drug addict, still grieving the death of her eldest son who was shot by the Germans only because a neighbour gave up his hiding place. Only two characters have a conscience: Arpad reckons the Jews have come for his drugstore and, fed up with his father calling the shots (he marches into the shop at one point and brazenly relieves the register of some cash) wants to return it to the Jews, while the town drunk, overcome with guilt, confesses his part in the ‘deportation’ of one prominent Jew.
There’s a Western vibe to the proceedings ('High Noon' would be a touchstone here) and Torok keeps things moving: his camera swoops about, always on the move, as characters enter and exit stage left and right. It’s a busy affair despite the low-key nature of the story and a powerful emotional punch at the finale.