Gloomy Sunday | Chicago Reader

Gloomy Sunday

Engrossing if not wholly convincing, this 1999 German drama by Rolf Schübel takes its title from a morbid Hungarian ballad that was connected with several suicides in the late 1930s. Most of the story, adapted from a novel by Nick Barkow, transpires in a Budapest restaurant where the house pianist (Stefano Dionisi) and Jewish owner (Joachim Krol) are both infatuated with the lovely and graceful hostess (Erika Marozsan); her third and least successful suitor, an Aryan businessman, tries to drown himself over her but later reappears as a high-ranking Nazi officer. The mortal effects of the ballad are exaggerated past the point of absurdity (written by the pianist for the hostess, it induces more than 150 people to kill themselves), and the Holocaust subplot is contrived and schematic. Yet the central love triangle is fairly compelling, aided by Krol's fine performance. In German with subtitles. 114 min.

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