MOVIE REVIEW – Another Hungarian romcom, this time set on Lake Balaton, with young people and a dash of Zoltán Mucsi. During a wedding party, a group of old classmates meet and as the genre demands: love, romance, intrigue and some humour try to colour the somewhat poor and unimaginative plot.
If someone ever writes a book about the present era of Hungarian filmmaking, they will surely call it the era of the romcom. Although films are not only made exclusively in this genre nowadays, a new romcom is made quickly after almost every other kind of attempt, just in case we get out of the routine.
We Started Together tries to stand out from the genre’s clichés by giving Zoltán Mucsi a relatively significant role – not enough to justify the size of his head on the film’s poster. In any case, if anyone was far from the romcom genre, it was Zoltán Mucsi, who most of us remember for his highly acerbic and hilariously crude films (Wreck Film, Gengszterfilm), his videos (Electricians), his advertisements (Szeged Wine Festival “with just one glass).
I can honestly say that when I went to see the film, I was expecting a bit more Mucsi after the poster mentioned above, but the fact is that I managed to write a character for him that fits well into the story of the film, while not being too prominent. “Jani bá”, true to Mucsi’s characters, is a heavily alcoholic and jerky high school gym teacher whose daughter Juli (Anna Mészöly) marries Renato (Márk Nagy), his high school sweetheart. In fact, the film’s plot is almost entirely based on this marriage.
The biggest flaw of Hungarian romcoms is that the characters in most of these films are rather implausible and unrealistic figures or clichéd archetypes forced into some silly story. Obviously, there are degrees of this, but Kata Dobó’s irritatingly bad film Borrowed House (2019) is a glaring example. Fortunately, this is not the case in Yvonne Kerékgyártó’s film: the great strength of the film is that the diverse characters of the former class 12th are all likeable, realistic and generally well played by the young actors. Of course, the archetypes play a role here too: the quasi protagonist of the film, Marci (Balázs Jakab), is the hopeless lover who, at the beginning of the film, at the graduation party, tries in vain to win over Franciska (Sára Smolygó) with a bottle of wine named after her, which he is preparing with his winemaker grandfather (Tamás Jordán), but she leaves before the romantic scene can unfold because of a phone call. Soon after, Marci leaves for London, where he works as a barman. And his best friend Ádi, Marci (Zsombor Kövesdi), is a bit like the Hungarian version of Ewan McGregor from Trainspotting: a self-righteous, bully-everyone, a big tough guy who takes no one and nothing seriously. His character is really dramatic because he has a heart and drug problem.
Everyone is in love with everyone else
It would be a long list of other characters, but there are a surprisingly large and interesting cast of characters, but unfortunately, the script doesn’t really do much with them. Although everyone has some kind of problem with their current relationship or because they are hopelessly in love with someone else, the plot does settle down at the wedding party on Lake Balaton and doesn’t go anywhere for a long time.
The characters pull each other along, although Franciska comes down to the wedding party with her English, nasty and jealous millionaire boyfriend (Joe Weintraub), but Marci tries to get the girl off his hands quite seriously, Ádi moves on the marrying Juli with extreme violence, and Janiba is constantly teasing Renato. Everybody tries, or fidgets, but the story remains stagnant for a long time, so much so that by the middle of the film I was actually uncomfortable in the cinema seat, so bored of the stale plot.
Towards the end of the film, the story does pick up again with a dramatic event, but it happens quite late. I also missed that Mucsi’s character could have been used more, after all, he has no other role in the second half of the film than to drink and constantly pick on Renato.
The strengths of We Started Together are the well-developed characters and great acting, and although Zoltán Mucsi’s character is underused in the film, he adds a lot to the comic part. Unfortunately, the plot settles down heavily from the middle and only becomes interesting again after a dramatic event. This is not the film that made me love the highly overrepresented Hungarian romcom genre, but if you like this genre, you will probably not be disappointed by Yvonne Kerékgyártó’s film.