As an only child, the idea of connections between siblings is one I can only vaguely comprehend on a theoretical level let alone identical pairs. However, it’s a concept which recurs quite frequently in films; particularly genre cinema. From the young twins in The Shining or The Other, to adult doubles in Dead Ringers, they’ve been used to disturbing and terrifying effect. In Ildikó Enyedi debut, My 20th Century, she eschews horror for a more playful adult fantasy.
In 1880s Budapest, orphaned twin sisters Dora and Lili (both played by Dorota Segda) support themselves by selling matches on the streets. After falling asleep one day, they are taken away an adopted by two separate families. Twenty years later, Dora is aboard the Orient Express scamming rich men out of their money. Unbeknown to both, Lili is also a passenger. She’s now a revolutionary who is planning to assassinate the Minister of the Interior. The handsome Z (Oleg Yankovskiy) is about to step into both their lives, whether he knows it or not.
My 20th Century is a flight of fancy. Given unlimited time and budget to make the film, Enyedi is given free-range to lavish in ostentation. The twins were born as Edison announced the invention of the lightbulb and the theme of scientific progress versus social and political change run through the film. While impish stars shepherd us along the journey as the sister approach their destination. Shot in stylish black and white, at times it has the feel of a much older film. My 20th Century is a beautiful fable without borders. A fairy tale within the esoteric. A wolf within the enclosure.
My 20th Century is released on Blu-ray and DVD by Second Run and available now.