Although “HAB” has already been screened at the 2021 Canadian European Union Film Festival it no doubt may surface throughout the world at various “Indie” cinemas.
Dora (Vica Kerekes) is a quirky young Hungarian lady. She berates herself for always trying to get what she simply can’t have. She has a torrid love affair with a man that is engaged and leaves her. Her bakery “HAB” has pastries named after on screen romantic actors but she has over invested in top notch equipment and her expenses are far greater than her revenue. But the Hungarian government is awarding 95,000€ to certain deserving family businesses. Problem is that she is not married and has no children so when invited to a retreat to discuss the grants she “borrows” a husband Adam who she met 4 days ago and a next door 11-year-old Lacika as her son who has the intellect of a 31-year-old.
Off this “family “goes to this retreat run by an overdone if not absurd woman so full of it she’s comical if not hysterical if she believes the crap she is spouting. And there is a facilitator a hokey pokey New Age author full of ridiculous platitudes. And the few families participating just may not be families. The retreat denigrates into a contest attempting to exploit and demean its participants. Now you may be chortling at the idiocy of this retreat but having been on a few myself there is a thunderbolt of sad reality where the goal is to inculcate you through simulated business cases and exhaust you. Sort of like a re-education camp. But the film resists the inclination to launch a frontal attack on these business retreats instead mocking them through absurdity and the stupidity of its sponsors. If you have been through it you find the film satirically on point. If not you’ll wonder what idiots designed this retreat. After purposeful humiliation exercises the retreat more or less collapses.
Then in its last minutes it becomes a romantic film with Dora not wanting to live a life of lies and fantasy and reopens her bakery on-line renaming her pastries after everyday situations such as “I had a flat tire.”
I am uncertain if director Nóra Lakos intended this to be a savage insight into the corporate retreat but that is the message I took away. This is no romantic comedy as some have described it. At points it reminds me of “The Truman Show”.
This 2020 Hungarian movie is in Hungarian with English subtitles.
The trailer is here https://vimeo.com/518094704