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ALEX FARBA


 

Alex Farba Deleon is a filmfestivals.com ambassador

MY FILM FESTIVAL REVIEWS


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New Film Noir from Hungary is a Groundbreaker and a Head Turner

by Alex Deleon

     <filmfestivals.com>

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BUDAPEST NOIR is a murder mystery set in the German influenced Budapest of 1936 with Antisemitism on the rise. Superbly directed, acted, and beautifully lensed by master cinematographer Elemér Ragály.  This is by far the Best Hungarian film of the year in what has been a very good year for Magyar cinema generally. In terms of genre the very first film of its kind from this country and an eye opener of the first order.  

Zsigmond Gordon (Krisztián Kolovratnik) is a determined unflappable investigative reporter for the biggest newspaper in Budapest in Horthy's increasingly fascist dominated Hungary. He specializes in murders but when a nameless hooker he met the night before is found dead on Nagy Diófa utca ("Big Walnut Street", the heart of the whorehouse district) and he starts following up on this "fait divers" he finds he is on to something far bigger than what he bargained for. With many surprising Jewish twists and turns this remarkable movie has the feeling of a Dashiel Hammet or Mickey Spillane thriller time-warped to the mid thirties in central Europe. Kolovratnik is outstanding as the tenacious reporter, so scruffy, cynical, and noir to the core, that he seems to be talking pure wisecrack American English and could pass for Mike Hammer or Sam Spade if he were a gumshoe instead of a journalist. Inspired casting. This guy was born for the role.  All other roles are just as sharply etched.

Period decor and reconstruction is letter perfect with all kinds of subtle naughty touches such as a high class nightclub featuring women boxers and a bordello catering to top level government politicos called "Les Fleurs du Mal". Shrewd direction by veteran helmer Éva Gárdos (b.1950) who directed the bilingual film "An American Rhapsody" with Nastassia Kinski and Scarlett Johansson in 2001 is flawless. Standard noir set pieces -- the knock on the head, the slash of a throat --are so carefully staged that they don't seem to be staged but simply ooze out of the script.

Ten stars are not enough.

Bottom Line: A perfect Hungarian film noir with kosher overtones that is bound to be a crowd pleaser in any cinema territory. New ground has been broken along the stolid shores of the Brown Danube. Bravo!                image1.jpeg Krisztiàn Kolovratnik is properly scruffy in "Budapest Noir"

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