Reviews, articles, rants & ramblings on the darker side of the media fringe

REVIEW: Katalin Varga

Katalin Varga **½

I love a good revenge movie. This isn’t one… I was lied to by the quotes on the DVD cover: “At once revenge thriller and folk tale” said Screen international; “Haunting, eerily beautiful” said The Guardian… liars. It also won the Silver Bear at the 2009 Berlin film festival for ‘Outstanding Artistic Contribution’. Director Peter Strickland was nominated for a string of awards at numerous European Festivals. Ooh, an artistic revenge flick…

Set in a Carpathian mountain village, Katalin is forced to leave with her 11 year old son when the whole village learns of her secret. Her husband rejects her and she sets out for revenge… on whom and for what we are yet to find out. So far, so good… then the long drawn out in and out of focus shots start… these must be the ‘artistic’ bits I thought.

She travels a lot. She stops at various villages asking directions. She takes her time getting to where she’s going, fair enough though as she’s travelling by horse drawn cart.

To be fair the film looks great and I don’t mind the odd beauty shot, but pointless shots of grass are a bit, well pointless. Arty yes, but what’s the point and more importantly where’s the revenge..?

Well it happens after a meeting between Katalin and a stranger at a bar, they leave to have sex in an alley and Katalin beats him to death with a rock. She leaves that village and heads to another… meanwhile a couple of guys purporting to be Policemen are on her trail.

As Katalin reaches her destination she is taken in by a husband and wife. Katalin explains to the couple why she is there and who her sons’ father really is…

It is a well made film, beautifully shot and a good central performance from Hilda Peter as Katalin. I can see why critics were fawning over this at the European festivals, it’s slow, filled with pointless cutaways and subtitled.

I liked it in parts but it is not a great revenge flick; yes it’s about revenge but is way too art-house and self-important for the average DVD renter to enjoy for what it was advertised as. This isn’t ‘Kill Bill’ and to be fair doesn’t want to be. The only thing it shares with that over-blown two-parter is its own self-importance.

Quality: 3 stars

Any good: 2 stars