The Exam | Chicago Reader

The Exam

88 minutes 2012

Director Peter Bergendy has a rich premise: on Christmas Eve 1957, secret police in Budapest stage an exercise to test one of their prized agents, but in the process they uncover his tryst with a woman who may be a revolutionary soldier. The movie's mordant critique of a communist police state invites comparison to Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's The Lives of Others (2006), which dealt with the East German Stasi. But whereas that drama was highly focused, Bergendy tries to incorporate humor, suspense, and romance into an already complex narrative, and the whole film feels undercooked. Nevertheless, the numerous plot twists keep this entertaining, and actor Peter Scherer is terrific in a supporting role as a slimy, opportunistic operative. In Hungarian with subtitles.

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