Glamour

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Glamour

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Glamour

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Three generations in a Hungarian Jewish family weather the trials of the 20th century in Frigyes Gödrös' Glamour, an insular epic that covers roughly the same territory as countryman Istvan Szabo's recent Sunshine, which also focused on the temptations and perils of assimilation. But the similarities end there. Even at three hours, Szabo's accessible English-language drama seemed thin and rushed, spanning history with breadth but surprisingly little depth. At two hours, Glamour looks as if a madman broke into the editing room and whittled it down from a version three times as long: Major characters drop in and out of sight, WWII begins and ends without much fanfare, and full decades pass in the space of a few cuts. To fill in the gaps, Gödrös smothers the proceedings with verbose narration, a few attempts at magic realism, and a wacky, carnival-of-life theme that hastily ties it all together. Centered on the family business, a Budapest furniture shop that survives the horrible whims of Hungarian history, the story begins in 1919, when Orthodox proprietor Gyorgy Bako has his inventory confiscated by the new Communist regime. His possessions are returned when the government topples, but he blithely predicts more tyranny to come. Karoly Eperje, his eldest son, takes over the business just after Hungary has signed a treaty with Nazi Germany, and, to avoid persecution, he converts to Christianity and arranges to marry a German schoolteacher (Eszter Onodi) through a loophole in anti-miscegenation laws. His ruse fails to stave off the inevitable hardships of war, and he spends time in a labor camp, but the family takes refuge in the shop's hidden basement. The Stalinist era brings another round of oppression, but, like the symbolic copper bell on the shop door, they survive generations of adversity. Narrated by Eperje's son, a surrogate for the director, Glamour pays loving tribute to the perseverance of Gödrös' ancestors during a tumultuous century for Hungarian Jews. From the isolated vantage of a courtyard shop, they successfully guard against war and changing regimes, which may explain why these events are presented with piecemeal haphazardness. But there's no accounting for the baffling relationships in the film. Why does nothing change after Bako disowns Eperje for not allowing his grandson to be circumcised? For that matter, why is the assimilation issue dropped after the first reel? And why does Eperje's devoted wife never speak? This missing information can be located somewhere in Gödrös' family history, but its absence in Glamour speaks to his ineptitude.

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