08 October, 2008

Delta (2008)

Following our recent article on the European Parliament LUX Cinema Prize, EFA and Picturenose, as promised, present a review of each of the three films up for the big prize on 22 October, beginning with Delta (2008), a Hungarian-German examination of 'unnatural' relationships...

Already the recipient of an award from the International Federation of Film Critics at Cannes, as well as a nominee for this year's Palme D'Or, Kornél Mundruczó's film examines the tragic consequences of a judgemental society. Mihail (Félix Lajkó) returns to the remote village of his birth (located on the Danube Delta), where he meets his sister Fauna (Orsolya Tóth), seemingly for the first time. Their new-found affection for each other (she moves in and helps him build a riverside house) embarrasses the tight-knit community, who condemn the relationship as unnatural and begin jumping to all the wrong conclusions. The couple are ostracized, and worse is to follow...

Mundruczo, whose previous work (also starring Orsolya Tóth) was the gripping, dark, sound-and-fury musical Johanna (2005), embraces a more intimate style here, in presenting a small-town malaise that is drifting inexorably towards vioence.

Kornel brings out another fine performance from Tóth, makes very effective use of his languid, violin-heavy soundtrack, and his firm compositional prowess brings truly beautiful imagery to the screen. However, the result is unfortunately rather less than the sum of these parts - seemingly happy only for his film to look striking, Kornel (and his screenplay, co-written with Yvette Biro) fails to probe any of its characters' motivation or behaviour to any significant depth, leaving an end result that feels slight, inconsequential even.

To be fair, Delta had to be reshot from the start when its original Mihail (Lajos Bertók) died half-way through the production, but the lack of content makes the whole seem distinctly pretentious, rather than portentous. It will be a surprise if this one grabs the gong.

Awards: Click here for more details.

92 mins. In Hungarian.

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