After the war, teenage Juli and her grandparents return from exile in Russia to Budapest. But Juli's hopes of happiness in her homeland are gradually eroded by the strictures of a disciplinarian society; her guardian offers love but no freedom; a free-thinking older man who befriends Juli is incarcerated. The fact that the film is based on Mészáros' own experiences makes for a certain veracity about life in Hungary during the Stalinist era, and certainly one is struck by its sincerity, intelligence and strong performances. But the film is so coldly directed, and the portrait of period and place so resolutely joyless that it is hard to care in any real way about the grim fates of its characters.
Cast and crew