Stracciatella

Andras Kern, a hugely popular actor in eastern Europe, wrote, directed, and stars in this 1996 Hungarian feature, a mildly amusing reverie on midlife crisis. A Bernstein-like maestro suffers a nervous breakdown while rehearsing a Beethoven concerto; under the care of a young female psychiatrist, he recounts a series of vignettes that illuminate, rather fitfully, his gentle yet maniacal personality. Impulsive and charismatic, he seems to fall for women who nurture and control him: his mother offers refuge from emotional and professional traumas; his estranged wife, a dentist, has provided financial security and freedom from routine worries; and now the psychiatrist, 15 years his junior, is eager to satisfy the aging lion's libido. The fairly predictable plot has him wavering between his impetuous infatuation and his obligations to family and career, serving up plenty of self-indulgent, showboating moments. Like Woody Allen (whose voice he dubs in Hungarian releases), Kern wears his neuroses on his sleeve, but he?s saved by a touch of irony, an understanding that his protagonist is a selfish mama's boy despite his public image as a disciplined, confident musical leader. The film comes close to being a misogynist's wet dream, yet only a self-mocking artist would title his work after a Hungarian term for nouveau riche junk food.

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