Prominent Hungarian filmmaker Ildiko Enyedi (Golden Bear in Berlin for the previous “On Body and Soul”) has made her most ambitious and expensive film to date, produced by several European countries. The budget of “The Story of My Wife” for European circumstances amounted to an extremely high ten million euros, and with this strange period of romantic drama set in the 1920s, it was presented in the main program of Cannes. Unfortunately, this too long, lifeless and terribly strange drama recorded (mostly) in English did not fully function. Perhaps one of the reasons the literary template was Milan Füst’s novel of the same name, a novel of the current of consciousness that is obviously difficult and ungrateful to switch to film.
At the heart of the story is Captain Storr (Dutchman Gijs Naber), a middle-aged Dutch sailor who is convinced that his young wife, the Frenchwoman Lizzy (Lea Seydoux), is unfaithful. The story is divided into seven chapters, and Storr tells his life story, which begins with a bizarre encounter with his future wife. Storr is sitting like that in a Parisian bar with a friend who suggests that it would not be bad for him to get married. More jokingly, Storr replies that he will marry the first to enter the bar, and to his (un) luck, that first woman will be Lizzy. Surprisingly, she will accept an offer to marry a man she has never seen before. As Storr is the captain of a cargo ship, he is constantly absent, and Lizzy is a social young woman with a lot of suitors, so jealousy will work in a tall, bearded and silent sailor.
In the nearly three hours that “The Story of My Wife” lasts, Enyedi takes us through the different stages of this couple’s life and their migration from Paris via Hamburg. Time spent in solitude somewhere at sea will obviously have a bad effect on him and Storr will think that Lizzy is cheating on him with her friend the writer Dedin (Louis Garrel), and he is not an innocent either. The story is told from his perspective so that it is unclear to the viewer whether the woman is cheating on him or not, and it becomes clear to us that Storr cannot control the flow of his black thoughts. Stylistically it was even interesting and definitely it’s not one of those costumed period dramas on the trail of BBC series about that time. All of this seems to be full of some symbolism, a bit absurd, semi-surreal, very, very strange, slow and too long.