László Nemes directs Juli Jakab, Evelin Dobos and Vlad Ivanov in this Hungarian historical mystery where an orphaned milliner returns to her family’s business unwelcomed during the build up towards The Great War.
Turns out I forgot to blog about Nemes breakout film, Son of Saul, when I watched it. That film followed a concentration camp slave trying to give his dead son a kosher burial. We followed his desperate attempts to survive and complete his humane goal almost in the first person, either looking directly over his shoulder or staying on his broken face. This follow-up keeps that style. It makes for an immersive experience – almost like playing a photorealistic XBox game or watching a period accurate remake of the It’s Always a Sunny in Philadelphia episode Charlie Work. Here I’d say the grandstanding technique is more powerful and effective. We have a mystery to solve, mob violence can erupt from nowhere and the production design is convincing if frantically half glimpsed. With Son of Saul the roving camera always felt like it was teasing you with the terror just out of shot and preaching at you that the mass extermination of a people is very, very, very bad. Here there’s a riveting plot to untangle, full of kinky twists and ominous scenarios, and a host of more complex characters to meet and judge. Nobody gets away clean.
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