Gloomy Sunday (2003)


Critic Consensus: Gloomy Sunday is beautiful, well-acted, and every bit as downcast as its title.


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Movie Info

Rolf Schuebel makes his directorial debut with this subtly-told true story about one the 1930s' most memorable melodies. Set just prior to WWII, the film focuses on Hungarian beauty Ilona (Erika Marozsan) and her significant other Laszlo Szabo (Joachim Krol), a dapper owner of Budapest's finest restaurant. Though Ilona is known for her prowess on the piano, the two decide to hire a professional as the finishing touch on their classy establishment. They hire Andras (Stefano Dionisi), a taciturn man with a certain mysterious charm. Meanwhile, regular customer and German businessman Hans (Ben Becker) finds himself utterly and completely smitten with the vivacious Ilona. When she spurns his advances, he drunkenly jumps into the Danube. Laszlo manages to rescue him and the three grow to become close friends. At the same time, Andras and Ilona grow to be something more than friends, and -- with the knowledge and approval of Laszlo -- they become lovers. Later, Andras composes a tune dedicated to his new consort and Laszlo quietly arranges for a couple of Austrian record execs to come to the restaurant to listen. Oozing with jaded ennui, the song, sans lyrics, quickly becomes an international success, yet it also seems to cast a dark spell over listeners -- people cannot help but commit suicide. In Hungary alone, 157 people killed themselves in the span of eight weeks. At the same time, the Third Reich marches into Austria. As the film progresses, Hans returns to Budapest, this time as an SS officer. There he offers Laszlo, who is Jewish, and who offers him free passage in exchange for money. This film was screened at the 2000 Berlin Film Festival.


Joachim Król
as Laszlo Szabo
Stefano Dionisi
as Andras Aradi
Erika Marozsan
as Ilona Varnai
Ben Becker
as Hans Wieck
Ulrike Grote
as Haeberle
Rolf Becker
as Wieck as an Old Man
András Bálint
as Ilona's Son
Geza Boros
as Violin Player
Ilse Zielstorff
as Frau Wieck
Ferenc Bacs
as Ambassador
Julia Zsolnai
as Ambassador's Wife
Aron Sipos
as Physician
Ernst Kahl
as Torresz
Jörg Gillner
as Istvan, Head Cook
Denis Moschitto
as Inas, Apprentice
István Mikó
as Potato Seller
Michael Gampe
as Director Novak
Karl Fischer
as Mr. Svoboda
Markus Hering
as Herr Schwitz
Werner Brehm
as Postman
Wanja Mues
as Mr. Mendel
Dorka Gryllus
as Mrs. Mendel
Tibor Kenderesi
as Professor Tajtelbaum
Anna Rackevei
as Seine Nichte
István Kanizsay
as Journalist in Cafe
Veit Stubner
as Wine Supplier
Marta Bako
as Candle Shop Assistant
Ferenc Nemethy
as Elderly Jew in Wieck's Office
Stefan Weinert
as SS Officer
Zsuzsa Manyan
as Laszlo's Neighbor
Aurel Haito
as Reporter 1
Gyorgy Kegl
as Reporter 2
Arpad Hetenyi
as Reporter 3
Tanya M. Nagel
as BBC Reporter
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Critic Reviews for Gloomy Sunday

All Critics (64) | Top Critics (17)

It's intelligent, well-acted and beautifully photographed.

May 12, 2005 | Rating: 3.5/5

Its old-fashioned romanticism is heady, and the relationships among the characters are intriguing.

Feb 20, 2004 | Rating: 4/5

It has enough opulent, oversized romanticism to make it a guilty pleasure, not to mention three attractive and appealing characters and, of course, that song.

Dec 19, 2003 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

It's a stirring and provocative affirmation of the power and resilience of love.

Dec 11, 2003 | Rating: B+ | Full Review…

Gloomy Sunday has a mood and a magic about it that elicit emotion from the beginning and make an audience follow it down its curving and melancholy path.

Dec 5, 2003 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

Oddly enough, the film itself is lushly engaging, even if it covers some of the same ground as The Pianist with less artistry and more melodrama.

Nov 14, 2003 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…
Boston Globe
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Gloomy Sunday


The story about the song is absurd, the menage-a-trois is not sexy, but the atmosphere is nice and you cant take yours eyes off Erika Marozsan..she is just gorgeous. A little slow, though, and a little uneventful. Really good ending, however, which almost makes me forgive the rest.

Cynthia S.
Cynthia S.

Super Reviewer


Seeing its high rating and believing it to be factual, I pounced upon it. But no sooner did the movie begin I found the proceedings to be too good to be true. And so it obviously was. The factual events are finely woven in this drama. I'd have enjoyed it more had it been without certain scenes. But having seen it, I guess they were necessary, or at least some of them. But I can't have everything my way. Putting that aside, the movie takes a dull start, but gets its grip firm as it advances, then takes a nap, then again becomes interesting,... and so on and forth. This tale of love, lies and betrayal is full of highs and lows. Predictable as it stands, it's interesting nevertheless. In fact, it's so great that (happened to encounter in Trivia section) it's been running daily since 2001 (till at least 10.30.2011 when this was written if the facts were factual!!!) at the Academy Arts Centre Theatre in Christchurch, New Zealand (so what if it's an accommodating 11 seat theater?). Surely worth a watch... and a gloomy Sunday may help more ;-)

familiar stranger
familiar stranger

Super Reviewer


As lovely and haunting as the song...

Stefanie C
Stefanie C

Super Reviewer

creaky melodrama

Bob Stinson
Bob Stinson

Super Reviewer

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