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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Kontroll – Budapest Underground Train Crew Film

Kontroll is a dark, grimy, noir-like fictional film about the miserable existence of Budapest ticket inspectors prowling the underground subways checking customers for their tickets.  

The first 20 minutes inside the dark, filth of the Budapest subterranean I didn’t think I would enjoy the film.  It seemed too murky, too overwrought, too jaded, and too slow.  Then the film grew on me to the point that at times it is a very funny, a dark funny, I mean really dark, dark funny and disturbing movie at the same time.   These subway crews spend their underground days both competing and fighting with other crews like gangs competing for turf as well as arguing with disrespectful customers who don’t pay their fare.  

This is one of those films that might not be perfect but its haunting, sometimes tragically funny scenes, kept me thinking about it the next day.  As a matter of fact, I’m more impressed with the film now after digesting it for a day than when I was watching it.   

While real life workers in the Budapest system are free to quit their jobs at anytime, the fictional characters in Kontroll seem to be swallowed up by the subway system.  They never speak of the surface, most of their social life (I say that loosely) seems to happen on the job, and their psyche is slowly being worn down by the repetition, the grime, competition from other train crews and abusive customers. For some unmentioned reason, there is no way out.  

Oh, yeah, there’s also a serial killer on the loose. A interesting idea that is kept ingeniously to a subplot, if you can ‘plot’ this part of the movie at all. A shadow in a shadowy movie.

 Make no mistake, this film will be too artsy, too violent, too indie, too over the top in general for some but I found some heartfelt moments, excellent directing, great use of changing scenes, and a fascination toward a film that I suspect was telling us a lot more than it showed.   If you are a foreign, artful, noir loving, movie goer with a twisted humor you might just like this film.

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