Many things happened in the final year of World War II, and seemingly even more movies have been made about those things. Ferenc Török’s 1945 is the first film to use the year as a title, however — and ironically, it’s focused on the events of a single summer day in a small Hungarian village. It’s the day that Kisrózsi (Dóra Sztarenki) is due to marry Árpád (Bence Tasnadi), son of town clerk Istvan (Péter Rudolf).
Kisrózsi’s feelings about her impending nuptials are already mixed — she’s less interested in Árpád than with his family’s drugstore and the social elevation it represents — but the entire town is thrown into turmoil when two Orthodox Jewish men, a father (Iván Angelus) and son (Marcell Nagy), arrive. They go on about their business on a trip to the town cemetery, but their mere presence unearths barely hidden guilt and anxiety among the townsfolk regarding their betrayal of the town’s Jewish residents during the Nazi occupation. Shot in glorious black-and-white and featuring a score that evokes Thomas Newman at his most foreboding, 1945 is a low-key, claustrophobic study of how easily a little paranoia can cause people to bust out the pitchforks. Granted, 1945’s villagers actually have something to feel guilty about — as we all ultimately do.
Opens Friday at the Clay Theater.