Child Murders

Notwithstanding the striking, razor-sharp, high-contrast black-and-white cinematography, this often-praised 1993 feature by Ildiko Szabo strikes me as being an unintentional parody of the compulsive morbidity so often associated with recent Hungarian art moviesa trait that to my taste only Bela Tarr, Peter Gothar, and a few others have been able to justify as something more than rhetoric. In this depiction of a miserable 12-year-old boy taking care of his sick and alcoholic grandmother, befriending a young, pregnant Gypsy woman, and eventually being driven to murder by the persecutions of a neighbor, there’s a veritable fetishing of suffering unaccompanied by much understanding or depth that the mechanical banality of the music and the disembodied quality of the postsync dialogue only make harder to tolerate. Maybe there’s more going on here than I could find, but the desire to shock seems to go well beyond the urgency of having something to say. (JR)

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