10 May 2018

"A magnificent portrait of a woman” – How Critics Reacted to One Day

One Day, the debut feature by Zsófia Szilágyi premiered in Cannes in the Critics’ Week section. The audience seemed to love the film, and you can read below how international critics reacted.

"A magnificent portrait of a woman” – How Critics Reacted to OneThe Hollywood Reporter / Boyd van Hoeij

"Shot in a handheld style and with a soundscape that doesn’t stop assaulting the senses — from crying kids to car alarms to spinning washing machines and dozens of other noises — the film does a great job of creating a fully immersive experience that really offers a window into the protagonist’s exhausting daily life. [...] this slice of Euro misery is prime festival fare, as its Cannes Critics’ Week selection suggests, and might also appeal to a few boutique distributors willing to take a chance on a new Hungarian talent, as Szilagyi is clearly a name to watch. [...] If this last sentence was exhausting to read and you can’t imagine actually doing this for even one day, you are either probably a man or grew up with an army of nannies. Szilagyi succeeds in making painfully visible how much self-effacing effort goes into what’s possibly the least appreciated job on the planet: being a mother. [...] Supporting actors, very much including the kids, are all solid,with the small family’s chaotic routines of overlapping dialogue at the kitchen table especially noteworthy for their exhausting, cacophonous naturalism."

Screen International / Lee Marshall

"An unexpecedly powerful drama. [....] Especially if, as in Hungarian director Zsófia Szilágyi’s wonderful debut film, it’s the working mother who somehow gets landed with the brunt of the childcare and mum’s-taxi-service duties. On this mundane premise, Szilágyi builds a deeply relevant film that manages to turn 36 hours in the life of a worn-out mother-of-three into a small but powerful drama of ordinary desperation. [...] One Day, which is surely destined for further festival play and arthouse bookings after its Cannes Critics Week debut [...] This pared-back companion piece to the ultimate ‘unraveling housewife’ movie, Chantal Akerman’s 1975 Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles, is a thriller in ways less obvious than that arthouse classic with its murderous ending. [...]  Szilágyi delivers a sympathetic women’s movie that makes the car chases and shootouts of the classic action genre look like the easy option compared to the challenge of holding down three kids, a job and a wayward husband."


Cineuropa / Fabien Lemercier

With hyper realism, One Day skilfully conveys the alienation of parental life and the time pressure which bears down on each and every day. The lead character gets through each day, moving forwards in the board game of life, one square at a time. All the classic panics of family life are revisited to perfection (the forgetting of various possessions, the smaller children’s mini-crises, the bigger child’s friendship issues, high temperatures, midnight pharmacies, giving and taking advice from other parents, help – to a degree – from the curious grandmother who tries to get to the bottom of the couple’s secrets, etc.) and Zsófia Szilágyi also excels at rendering the aggression inherent to the urban world (horns blaring, public transport crowded, drivers at loggerheads). This is a highly rhythmic tableau and an endless treadmill, electrified by Ana’s marital woes. With her questioning looks and her uncertainty over the seriousness of the crisis and the approach she should take, our protagonist appears to have hit a wall and is on the verge of breaking down. A magnificent portrait of a woman, finely acted and shot with a very clear sense of context, this seemingly austere-at-first-glance film shows strong signs of great directorial prowess.