Friday, February 3, 2012

Kontroll (2003)

Kontroll (2003)
Kontroll (2003)

Genre: Comedy Thriller
Director: Nimród Antal
Starring: Sándor Csányi, Zoltán Mucsi, Csaba Pindroch, Lajos Kovács, Eszter Balla
Language: Hungarian
Duration: 105 min.
Rating: 7.5  

A farcical look at the Budapest subway system, the crazy ticket agents who earn their living there and the hostile citizens they deal with on a daily basis.

Kontroll is the debut feature film from American born Hungarian director Nimród Antal.  It screened in the Un Certain Regard section of the 2004 Cannes Film Festival where it won the Award of the Youth, an award selected by a special jury of members aged eighteen to twenty-five.

It's a frenetically paced dark comedy and thriller set entirely in the underground stations and tunnels of the Budapest Metro.  It follows young troubled but agreeable ticket inspector Bulcsú (Sándor Csányi) and his fellow team of roaming co-workers who are all equally messed up in their own way, as they face the daily grind of putting up with the fascist bosses, dealing with a non stop stream of ticketless and highly disgruntled riders, and maintaining bitter rivalries with other teams of inspectors.  All the while a serial killer is at large, stalking the platforms and pushing unsuspecting passengers into the path of oncoming trains.

The characters here are all a fairly stereotypical quirky motley crew, and the narrative is a mostly plotless and wandering sequence of chaotic events pieced together as a metaphoric and satirical take on the aging and dilapidated Hungarian subway system, one that still runs on the honor system.  Not at all a convincing story or scenario, however there is a great energy and pace to it, and has for lack of a better descriptor, an MTV like look and feel, with a brightly lit color palette dominated by an eerie fluorescent  glow which makes the dark shadows even darker, and a pulsing electronic soundtrack that perfectly fits the quick paced nature of the film.

Antal also shows a great talent for directing action scenes.  The numerous chase sequences throughout are truly exciting, as we see Bulscú and company in various instances attempt to outrun sneaky passengers and even oncoming trains.  A little bit fast cut and shaky at times, but still very impressive considering the half million dollar budget and lack of special effects.

Overall an interesting an enjoyable first effort from a director who has since gone on to do a number of average Hollywood action films including the recent forgettable Predator sequel.  Don't let that discourage you though, this one is well worth seeing, and I hope Antal returns to doing more films like it in the future.  Thank you to the reader who recently suggested it!

Bonjour Tristesse

Kontroll (2003)

Kontroll (2003)

Kontroll (2003)

Kontroll (2003)

Kontroll (2003)

Kontroll (2003)

Kontroll (2003)

Kontroll (2003)


Margaret M. said...

I loved this movie, very quirky and it had great ambiance. The ending was especially charming. Great review!

Bonjour Tristesse said...

Thanks Eric.  Sounds like your type of film then.

Bonjour Tristesse said...

 Thanks JD.  I will check those out soon.

Bonjour Tristesse said...

Yeah that subway rave scene was cool.  I have a feeling they threw a real party down there to get such a great atmosphere.

Bonjour Tristesse said...

 It is pretty cool, and shouldn't be too hard to find since it's been out for awhile now.

G said...

Looks good and sounds a laugh

Eric said...

Nice review. I'm always a sucker for a good, dark comedy, so I may have to check this one out.

Jack Deth said...

Hi, Bonjour and company:

This film looks cool on its own merits! It's nice to see that the Budapest Subway System is just as weird and unique as New York's.

 I may also just see this just because the director's first name is Nimrod.

PS: I've guest reviews at 'Flix Chatter' and 'FRC' you might enjoy.

d_4 said...

You know, I'm a little skeptical. I'll put it on the list but I won't give it much priority. It'd be cool to just flip channels and stumble onto it, but I don't think that'll happen.

Christine said...

This is one of those films I saw a few years back on television and liked but forgot the name of it.  Thanks for reminding me of it.  I loved that whole subway party scene.  

FrontRoomCinema said...

I think it looks pretty cool actually!!

I may have to keep an eye out

blahblahblahtoby said...

I came over with the suspicion that I had already read your review and commented. That would have been embarrassing. Enjoyable review with some memorable shots from this visually interesting movie.

In the end we actually watched this whilst we were in Budapest, not that it changed my impression of place or movie. It's a much nicer metro system than Vienna for example despite the fact that its the second oldest metro system in the world.

I second your hope that Antal gives up on his poor American movies and returns to his more interesting independent roots. Perhaps even a return to Hungary.

blahblahblahtoby said...

Absolutely, it looks old but it has a real charm and some of the station/tunnel architecture is wonderful. I would say that Antal probably used less well known areas of the metro to film in too which demonstrates the quantity of striking imagery available to choose from.

Your point about Bela Tarr is a good one. I asked in several stores for some of his work but either got confused looks or no in response. A real shame. But then again I was in the UK's largest music and DVD store in London and they had none of his work either.

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