On Body and Soul: Meeting the person of your dreams seems very unlikely in a world of cynics, but a connection that transcends visions of sleep can offer new possibilities. In Hungarian Director Ildikó Enyedi’s romantic drama film On Body and Soul, two workers at a slaughterhouse—chief financial officer Endre and quality inspector Mária—discover that they have been sharing the same dream every night, with both interacting as deer meeting in a forest. As time passes, their connection grows stronger than either could ever imagine.
All That We See or Seem: The premise of On Body and Soul might suggest a more fantastical exploration of dreams and surreal elements of that nature, but the plot is surprisingly more grounded in the reality of the protagonists. Young Mária displays slightly autistic behavior and seeks therapy to even muster up the courage to hold a conversation with others while Endre is elderly with a crippled hand that makes simple tasks throughout the day more difficult to carry out. They are people trapped by their own inescapable weaknesses, but in the company of each other in their dreams, they are free and revel in the escape offered by a world only they inhabit. While Mária and Endre’s interactions are sparsely awkward at times, there are endearing moments, especially as Mária tries to open up by practicing what to say with dolls or using a stuffed puma to mimic intimate actions.
Deer-ly Beloved: It might be surprising for viewers to find out that all of the scenes shot with deer to represent Mária and Endre’s dream sequences were not CGI. The way the animals frolicked and interacted was filmed in real time, making the frosty woodlands they roam seem like even more of a natural wonder. One downside to this aspect of On Body and Soul is the limited amount of time spent on this other plane of existence. The film missed out on an opportunity to delve deeper into the free range of a dreamscape and limited itself to a singular environment with minimal screen time.
Though a fascinating character study on the unlikely relationships forged through shared visions, On Body and Soul only skimmed the surface of a love beyond reality.