Monday, March 20, 2006


Cast: Sándor Csányi, Zoltán Mucsi, Csaba Pindroch, Sándor Badár, Zsolt Nagy, Bence Mátyási, Gyözö Szabó, Eszter Balla, László Nádasi, Lajos Kovács
Director: Nimród Antal

Bulcsú lives underground. The idea of going above ground is not one he is comfortable with. At night he sleeps on the deserted platforms of Budapest's underground system. By day he works as a ticket inspector. A despised profession, and he is a member of the bottom wrung team. The extremes of which are the narcoleptic Muki, who falls asleep whenever he gets argumentative, and new boy Tibor who is being kept in the dark about some of the things that go, but then isn't the brightest member of the group anyway.

Following Bulcsú and co we go through a couple of days as a ticket inspector. The repeated abuse and conflict they suffer as they encounter every kind of nutter, and try to get a ticket out of them. From which we see patterns emerge - the rivalry between the groups of inspectors, the young punk Bootsie who sprays cream in the face of any inspector he meets, and the rising number of people who seem to be throwing themselves in front of trains. Two things happen to Bulcsú to knock him out of his increasingly isolated rut - he witnesses one of the deaths, and he meets an enigmatic young woman dressed as a teddy bear.

Why did the Budapest Underground allow this film to be filmed? That's the question the man responsible keeps being asked, but as he explains in the introduction to the film, he hopes that people can separate the fiction from reality. As far as he and the director are concerned Kontroll is a fairy tale, about good and evil, set in a kind of underworld, which the atmosphere of an underground system brings to life. Of course the fact that the film opens with this disclaimer suggests that someone along the line was concerned about the image people would have of Budapest after seeing the film.

Kontroll is a surreal Hungarian film that did the festival circuit and small art houses a few years ago. While it played a few places in Scotland, if it played locally to me then I missed it. Though I had read about it each time it played somewhere else and was interested in seeing it. Having slipped my mind, I stumbled across the DVD the other day and bought it straight away. Kontroll is a mixed film - comedic, romantic and sinister - all the makings of a glorious cult status.

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