Leave the cannoli, take the movies

Review Blog


Posted by Jonathan Leithold-Patt on May 15, 2012 at 10:40 PM


Béla Tarr


IDEA:  The citizens of a small, crumbling Hungarian agricultural town struggle with their seemingly hopeless existences until the allegedly deceased Irimias returns, purporting to cure them of their woes.

BLURB:  Ashy, murky gray halftones paint the morose and muddy drabness of a poor rural Hungarian town. Slowly shifting tableaux further reveal spaces where human misery smolders. Rain is constant, sorrow is a fact of life. Moving along, molasses-like, on beats of unrelenting gloominess, Sátántangó can be a trying experience. Watching the alternately hypnotic and drearily plodding 7-hour film may render you in a somewhat similar state of sedation to its often slumbering – or otherwise inert – characters; for every astonishing gliding tracking shot and masterfully minimalist, long-held composition is another that seems to serve no other purpose than to stress its own languorous tediousness. Tarr is adamant in showing us every waking (and not-so-waking) second of his characters’ lives, and while the effect can be uniquely captivating, akin to an ever-rolling voyeur’s camera, it often feels merely indulgent. But there’s something to be said for a film of this length that’s able to sustain such an intensely atmospheric mood for so long. The sheer artistry and technical virtuosity on display in many scenes is enough to keep Sátántangó’s bruised images lingering.

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