The Restless Hungarian (2023) Film Review
“In architecture, we experience relationships in space”.
A phrase mentioned in the documentary by director Tom Weidlinger, The Restless Hungarian, that embodies the mystery slowly unraveling in a film that will leave many with questions unanswered, while the rest lie in forethought about their relationships with their families. In the film, Weidlinger attempts to put together a logical timeline that will try to shed light on how his family was formed, what it progressed into, and how it ended up being a dark reflection of his own mindset. Early on Weidlinger reveals a shocking fact about himself: suicidal thoughts have clouded his mind, and through the film we’re supposed to find some link that will maybe explain what appears to be only outcome at first for him.
The Restless Hungarian is a bittersweet exploration of a family tree that’s unlike the traditional rendering of promising values and victories. There’s trauma since the beginning and Weidlinger doesn’t step away from that. He actually incorporates traditions into the storyline that subtly lets us observe the imperfection of a family that’s average as seen from the outside, but truly fascinating if we take a more intimate perspective. The film revolves around Weidlinger’s father Paul, an architecture artist born in Hungary who was forced to emigrate constantly because of wars and hate towards his religious standing. Weidlinger’s film is an intimate look into the dynamics of a family he truly met when he made the decision of writing a book that would explain the obscure tragedies that darkened the memories.
Architecture was a huge deal in Paul’s life as he changed his setting when forced to migrate. This is thoroughly explained in the film, as the imagery is constantly filled with tidbits about Weidlinger’s way to see the world and perhaps how the modern world took his contributions. He was responsible for designing controversial figures that had something to do with the same thing he ran away from. Regardless, it’s all part of the mystery that shrouded the family.
Almost 10 years in the making, The Restless Hungarian is also a film about the director himself. At times, it’s actually more about his perception of his father and how that box that always remained closed modeled him into a curious man whose lifestyle consisted of seeking answers about the missing elements of his family. The documentary isn’t as compelling as others, but it’s because it’s not supposed to be. This isn’t an extraordinary story about a man who changed the world. It’s a one-man’s journey to understand the figure of his father, the mother that wasn’t there, and the family that fought against everything to become something that today doesn’t exist.
There’s a tragedy that I won’t reveal that speaks clearly about mental health inside the Weirdlinger household. It’s a horrific fact that will maybe help you see how progress worked in different ways as traditions were shattered and survival became the landscape. Even after death, love was still a mystery, and to this day a film director is keen on finding the truth about it. This documentary is a good companion to such journey.