15 January 2011 | mjneu59
growing up in dysfunctional times
The first film from Hungary to examine the 1956 anti-communist uprising does so from a sober but not always serious point of view, through the eyes of a boisterous Budapest family swept up in the resulting turmoil. Most of the action is witnessed by ten-year old Tomi, who aside from everything else has to shoulder the extra burden of his own sexual awakening, next to which the Soviet invasion is only a happy excuse not to go to school. The film will likely be compared (somewhat unfairly) to John Boorman's more polished wartime coming-of-age comedy 'Hope and Glory', which it actually pre-dates by several years. It may lack a consistent narrative thread, but individual scenes are priceless, like the hair-raising moment when an afternoon joyride on a railroad handcart takes several children through a tense forest ambush. Altogether it's a timely, touching reminder of how, even in moments of total social chaos, human beings will always remain refreshingly, fallibly human.