Dir: Gyorgy Palfi.Hungary/Austria/France. 2005. 90 mins.
Gyorgy Palfi's second feature, whichcollected a slew of awards including best film at the recent Hungarian FilmWeek, is likely to be as much of a talking point as his first film Hukkle,albeit for very different reasons. Spanning three generations of one family,this horror film will put off many art-house cinemagoers with itsuncompromising take on sexuality, gluttony and immolation to name just three ofthe themes it touches, but its unsettling, gruesome humour will delightfestival programmers, while media controversy and careful handling forspecialized markets may result in better than average results.
The film kicks off in the early 20thcentury with a lowly orderly (Czene) who is being driven mad by his sexualfantasies while working for his commanding officer. The objects of his desireare his commander's nubile daughters, who he spies on while they are bathing,and their long-suffering, overweight mother whom he services sexually once a month.
The son born from their unholy union isblessed with a prodigious appetite. Growing up under the communist regime, he(Troczany) becomes a champion competitive eater. Fast-forward to the presentand the champion (now played by Mate) has grown to massive proportions. Histaxidermist son (Bischoff), as thin as his father is fat, takes care of himuntil he inevitably explodes, his entrails spreading all over the room, whichare promptly eaten by his cats. The son does the only thing that seems appropriate,cleans him out and stuffs him with straw. In a chilling climax, he cuts himselfopen and does the same to himself.
Moving from irreverence bordering onobscenity (an erect penis becomes a blowtorch spouting flames of desire) toqueasy explorations of bodily functions (copious puking of undigested food ineating competition), Palfi severely tests the nerves of his audiences in thefinal scenes. But the film is also a sharp satirical social comment as hischaracters' behaviour is put in context of the times they live in.
To Palfi's credit, he never attempts totitillate. His mind-boggling visual imagination is ably supported by GergelyPoharnok's camera and the art direction. Casting is spot-on throughout, withCzene and Bischoff standing out as scarily believable.
Amour Fou Filmproduktion
Memento Films Production
Arte France Cinema
based on novel by Parti Nagy Lajos