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Film / On Body and Soul

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On Body and Soul is a 2017 film from Hungary, directed by Ildiko Enyedi.

It is about the tentative romance between Endre and Maria, two employees at a slaughterhouse. They both have their own problems. Endre is a loner who seems to shun social contact outside of work, and he has a lame left arm. Maria is on the autism spectrum. She's high-functioning (she's a college graduate who works as a quality inspector at the slaughterhouse) but she has many of the symptoms of autism: oddly formal in posture and manner, often sitting rigidly and motionless, unable to understand social cues, disliking being touched. When social interactions at work go poorly, she practices them with LEGO figurines at home.

Maria and Endre are brought together by an odd circumstance: they share the same dream. Namely a dream where they are two deer in the forest, she a doe and he a stag. After some plot contrivances lead them to discover this, they develop a relationship, which starts to deepen, but both hesitate at making the emotional leap of faith.



  • Bath Suicide: Maria is in the process of committing one, slicing an artery open with a piece of glass and letting the water turn red with blood, when she is interrupted by a phone call from Endre.
  • Face Framed in Shadow: In one of their first conversations, Endre goes to talk to Maria after the other workers complain that she is being over-strict about inspecting the meat. The only light is from her computer monitor. Their faces being half-shadowed reinforces how nervous Maria is over having to talk with someone.
  • Fade to White: How the movie ends, fading to white after one last shot of the snowy forest, now without any deer.
  • Fan Disservice: Maria sitting in her apartment naked, taking a telephone call from Endre—while blood spurts from the wound she just sliced in her arm. She was in the process of committing suicide when Endre called; his call leads her to bandage the wound up and go to the hospital.
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  • Hates Being Touched: Part of Maria's autism/OCD is an aversion to being touched. It's a setback to their nascent romance when Endre touches Maria's arm and she flinches. Her therapist recommends she work on it by touching her own body, which she does, with a stuffed animal in the bed to simulate another person.
  • Hollywood Autism: Maria has most of the symptoms Hollywood associates with autism: an aversion to tapping noises, difficulty making eye contact, rigid posture, etc. She also has an eidetic memory, as she proves by demonstrating to Endre how she can remember literally every single word he's ever said to her.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Endre's buddy Jeno is introduced at lunch saying "Keep a woman on a short leash." This is followed by his wife, who also works there, coming over and giving him a list of errands to run after work.
  • Interrupted Bath: Maria's Bath Suicide is interrupted by a phone call.
  • Interrupted Suicide: Maria's tub is filling with blood after she opens a vein in her arm, before a phone call and a declaration of love from Endre leads her to go to the hospital.
  • Male Gaze: The psychologist administering the tests is quite buxom. She catches Endre staring at her breasts. He apologizes, but she then sets out to embarrass him by asking questions about when he had his first wet dream and when he lost his virginity.
  • May–December Romance: Their ages aren't mentioned but Endre is obviously much older than Maria is. (The actor who played Endre was 65 and the actress who played Maria was 31.)
  • No Animals Were Harmed: The movie was filmed in an actual slaughterhouse and one scene is a real slaughtering of a cow. The disclaimer at the end says "Some animals were harmed during filming, but none of them for the sake of this film."
  • Photographic Memory: Maria has one, as she proves to Endre when she rattles off the first sentence he says to her, and the fifth, and the 17th.
  • Psychic Link: Endre and Maria are having the exact same dream every night, in which they are two deer in a snowy forest. After they consummate their relationship, the shared dreams end.
  • Sexy Figure Gesture: When Sandor the crude guy comes out of the psychologist interview the others ask him how it went. He says "She's got tits like this!" and holds his hands quite far in front of his chest.
  • Shared Dream: Endre and Maria share several dreams, where they are a deer and a doe living in a snowy forest.
  • Snow Means Love: Notably, the forest in the dream is in winter with snow everywhere. The first dream they share has the stag helping the doe to find food under the snow.