Like most films from postwar Hungary, Love is about the hardships of a people under oppression. But this one is special: The tale of two women who grow close in the absence of a loved one, it has an emotional resonance rare in films from Hollywood — or, for that matter, Eastern Europe.
The absent loved one is János (Ivan Darvas), a political prisoner. Left behind are his wife, Luca (Mari Torocsik), and his dying Mama (Lili Darvas), who thinks that her son is in America, getting rich and famous. Though facing persecution herself, Luca faithfully visits her bedridden mother-in-law bearing flowers and gifts. The visits are far from friction-free. Mama is a demanding old woman, and Luca isn’t always tolerant of her mood swings. But they’ve found companionship in each other and escape into shared memories through idyllic flashbacks that vividly contrast with the desperate present — and the uncertain future.
A well-acted portrait of human hearts enduring, Love more than earns its lofty title. Seldom has that emotion seemed so selfless, or indomitable.