Before I start… I did watch a Polish dubbed version of the film (it’s Hungarian) with English subtitles. In case you’ve never seen a Polish dub (though Russian dubs seem to be similar): they have one translator who reads out the translated script when the characters are speaking. So one guy will do all the voices (male/female, young/old) in a rather monotonous way… for some reason this somewhat spoils the fun for me.
So I’ll try to be as subjective as I can in this review of…
KONTROLL (Hungary, 2003)
Kontroll (I do not feel the need to translate the title) was the first Hungarian film at the Cannes Film Festival in 20 years.
Either the film industry isn’t exactly booming there or most films fail to reach a certain standard. I can’t say I could name one Hungarian film, so I’m afraid we’ve neglected the region. I’m sure some good films must’ve been made there.
Nimrod Antal was the director and it’s his feature debut. If you didn’t know this, you could tell so by watching the film: a particular giveaway are the continuity mistakes (especially when the controllers chase Bootsie). Another continuity mistake: a subway train enters the station, it looks empty, the doors open and suddenly you find people inside.
It’s as if we were in an Asian horror film. But fear not, it’s just a continuity problem.
Still, I did get the feeling Kontroll occasionally wanted to be an Asian horror film or a clever horror production from Hollywood. It’s always a shame, because if you want to be hip, you end up being the opposite: a faker.
I also had a problem with the characters. Whereas I don’t feel I always need to like the characters to appreciate a film, here it seems like you should have some sympathy for these controllers, but I just couldn’t find any. Sure, they’re constantly lamenting on how noone likes them, but give me a reason why we should find them likeable.
The biggest flaw of the film (apart from trying to be hip) is the story. Or lack of. Kontroll has a few ideas (some good), put them in a blender and served us the mix. Sure, now we have mashed ingredients and something that resembles a dish, but I didn’t think the mix tasted good.
There’s the story of these controllers (work), the fascinating girl (love), the mysterious deaths (horror). And though they did their best to interweave the elements, something is missing. I didn’t feel a unity.
The love story is interesting. The idea of dressing up the mysterious girl in an animal suit is great and it works. Again, more could’ve been done with this character, but at least here you don’t feel you’re watching a flat character.
So, should you watch Kontroll? I would say “yes”, Like Asia Argento‘s Scarlet Diva this film is an interesting mistake, but it does contain scenes that are worth checking out. If you’re in a video store and need to find one more film (or, we try to keep up with our time, have enough GBs left to download another film this month), there are worse options. Yes, you will spot the continuity mistakes (I’m usually hopeless in that department and I spotted them easily). Yes, you’ll feel the need to fast forward some bits.
But yes, some scenes are nice and you’ll enjoy them.
The movie came recommended to me and I don’t think it can hold up to any expectation. I’m sure that if I’d found out about the film myself, I might’ve enjoyed it more. I still wouldn’t think it was a great movie though.
In short, Kontroll is flawed but all praise to the bear suit.
For more details: http://www.kontrollfilm.hu