Stars: Juli Jakab, Vlad Ivanov, Evelin Dobos, Marcin Czarnik
Set in 1913 on the eve of WW1 in the closing days of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Laszlo Nemes’ follow-up to his debut feature masterpiece ‘Son of Saul’ is a wilfully oblique and overlong disappointment. Jakab is Írisz Leiter, a milliner returning to Budapest to apply for a job as an assistant in a hat shop, Leiter’s, which, it is revealed, once belonged to her parents. The new manager Oszkár Brill (Ivanov) not only refuses to employ her, but buys Írisz a ticket out of Budapest. Later at her boarding house she is approached by a coachman who tells her of Kálmán Leiter, the brother she never knew she had, who has been involved in a crime involving a Count. Resolving to find the truth, Írisz wanders the Budapest streets encountering cultists and communist insurrectionists along the way. Nemes deploys the same modus operandi that served him so well for his debut, all intense close-ups, over-the-shoulder short focus shots, and sinister sound design replete with heated frantic whispers. Initially it’s suitably paranoia-inducing but over the film’s extended two-and-a-half hour running time, and as it becomes clear that Nemes has no intention of tying the numerous threads together, the elusive approach feels perverse and frustratingly obtuse.