Director: Benedek Fliegauf
Starring: Felícián Keresztes, Barbara Thurzó, Lajos Szakács, Anikó Szigeti, Edina Balogh
Duration: 130 min.
The film illustrates one day in the life of a drug-dealer. Extreme dramatic events and episodes follow one after the other, all connected by the protagonist of the film, the Dealer.
Dealer is a film written and directed by Hungarian filmmaker Benedek Fliegauf (Forest). It premiered at the 2004 Hungarian Film Festival.
Much like his previous film, this is a stylishly shot picture set in modern day Budapest. But instead of just a string of random episodes, this film has the Dealer (Felícián Keresztes) to connect the various personal stories. We watch a crucial 24 hours in the life of the unnamed dealer as he goes about his daily routine peddling drugs to a diverse mix of clients. Along the way, we see incredibly detailed glimpses into each of these damaged characters, leading the dealer to reflect on his own decisions in life.
Visually this film is greatly inspired by the work of fellow countryman Béla Tarr. Even though this was shot on HDV color and not black and white film, there are many strong similarities. The rigorous use of light and shadow to achieve a darkened mood; the composition of frames, varying wide and close shots utilizing depth of field to emphasize the character's faces; and the slow often circular tracking and panning of the camera. Cinematographer Péter Szatmári, maintains this beautiful yet gloomy tone from daylight to night and back to day again.
A large part, and perhaps even more important to this film's atmosphere is the soundtrack. Underlying almost every scene are various ambient soundscapes crafted by Fliegauf, a minimalistic score composed not from instruments but from sounds of droning and howling artificial winds that produce a haunting effect encompassing the entire film. Repetitive sound is also used throughout the film to heighten a scene's intensity. When the dealer stops for lunch at an almost empty outdoor restaurant, seated motionless in thought with a burnt out cigarette in hand, the camera pans in a slow circle keeping his face on the left of the frame as his cellphone lays ignored, endlessly rattling on the table. In another later scene, he visits a young student's apartment where we can hear a constant unnatural barking noise in the background, it isn't until the end of the scene several minutes later that we discover the source of those sounds. The girl's roommate suffering from a bad mushroom trip and unable to stop chanting 'ma, pa, ma, pa'.
This is an atmospheric, slow moving and intense study not just on drugs, but on modern life in general. A great step in the right direction for this young director whose career I am definitely following now.
— Bonjour Tristesse