In Hungary, it’s the 1960’s and Emerence (by Helen Mirren) is at work outside her house. New neighbours have moved in across the street and the new lady of that house, Magda (by Martina Gedeck) approaches. She speaks to Emerence, but gets no response. Such is the beginnings of the relationship between these two women. Emerence is a poor, stoic, disciplined, working class woman in her sixties who has survived the Second World War and developed hard edges as a result of her life experiences. Magda is the wife of a well-off businessman, Tibor (by Károly Eperjes) – she’s a writer, in her fifties and curious about people. She needs help around the house, to free her time to produce her next novel. She asks Emerence for her help and their unique arrangement begins. The neighbours are all curious about the isolate Emerence – and why won’t she let anyone behind the door and into her house? This is the story of the developing relationship between Emerence and Magda.
This is a curious movie. It’s the kind of movie you would keep watching just to find out what makes this woman the way she is and what will happen between these two. The mystery about Emerence’s house and the reason for her isolation is not fully explained, but still – the audience is left on tenderhooks to find out whether we see behind “The Door” and if we do, what will be there. I liked it. Helen Mirren and Martina Gedeck balance each other well and Károly Eperjes is a good solid character for each to play off and against as the story unfolds. Helen Mirren is quite luminous as Emerence – in a role similar to that played by Glenn Close in “Albert Nobbs” where she appears without makeup and still totally dominates every scene she is in by the pure presence of this curious character. It’s good, yes. The movie was adapted from the semi-autobiographical 1987 Hungarian novel by Magda Szabó,
Made in 2012. Directed by István Szabó