Hungary/ Germany/ France, 2016
dir. Bence Fliegauf
Centred on a relationship between a mother and her young son, acclaimed Hungarian filmmaker Bence Fliegauf’s latest feature is at once a tale about growing up, motherhood and separation, and an expedition into self-constructed, fictitious and bygone worlds.
We first meet the film’s protagonist, Rebeka (Angéla Stefanovics), as she narrates a bedtime story in a darkened room to her young son Danny (Bálint Sótonyi). Yet this is no ordinary fairytale. As the film progresses and Rebeka delves further into the fantasy world of her own creation, which is populated by the characters of the Hunter, his wife Fairy, and their child Honey, Rebeka’s storytelling becomes a prism through which to consider her own complicated past and the special bond that unites her with Danny.
Noted for its proximity to ‘Terrence Malick and Andrei Tarkovsky’ (The Hollywood Reporter, February 13, 2016), Lily Lane revels in its experimental approach to capturing the past and memory but also in its portrayal of the stages of life – from childhood to adulthood and death – as an organic and cyclical metamorphosis. Only the titular Lily Lane ever reminds us that we are in modern-day Budapest. The context of the city itself is here superfluous. Instead, Fliegauf gives full attention to Rebeka’s story, and her relationship with Danny, a focus that is mirrored in the tight frames of which the film is composed. Glimpses of the past – Rebeka rubbing lotion on her pregnant belly; close-ups of Lego pieces while a child (presumably a very young Danny) cries and calls for its mother – have the shaky, handheld aesthetic of being shot on a camera phone with the ‘flash’ on. While they can be easily read as flashbacks that provide a back story and inform the narrative thread spun by Rebeka, they also suggest the way in which memories take on surreal, dreamlike qualities or turn into autonomous images.