Katalin Varga is a 2009 directorial debut of Peter Strickland, he used the money from a bequest from his uncle to fund the project. Filmed over several years in a Hungarian-speaking part of the Romanian region of Transylvania, Strickland completed the project for £28,000.
In the beautiful, otherworldly Carpathian Mountains a woman is traveling with a small boy in a horse and cart, looking to punish those who once abused her. For years, Katalin has been keeping a terrible secret. Hitchhiking with two men, she was brutally raped in the woods. Although she has kept silent about what happened, she has not forgotten, and her son Órban serves as a living reminder. When her village discovers her secret, Katalin’s husband rejects her. With nothing to lose, she is free to seek revenge on the perpetrators. As she puts human faces to horrible acts, she is forced to consider that morality might not be as black and white as she had imagined.
~Santa Barbara Intl Film Festival
Apart from the literary influences, Strickland must surely have taken something from the severe and austere cinema of Béla Tarr, whose films move at a glacial pace, but which, weirdly, have plots which could be thrillers and noirs. The rackety bars here are the location for much central European-style hillbilly-sinister dancing, promising a violent denouement in the darkness outside. It is very like Tarr, and the suspicious farmer who first lets Katalin and Orbán stay overnight is Tarr-ed with that brush. With his neck brace and his moment of semi-nudity in a pair of horribly tiny underpants, he is scary and funny – but mostly scary.
Strickland’s film-making steers away from Tarr’s tendencies towards indulgence and conceit, however. He keeps the storylines reasonably taut and his characters are capable of normal human smiling. Péter’s performance is not catatonic-deadpan in the cliched, high arthouse style: she can be the harassed refugee, or the pained single mother, or the seducer, and her face seems to change radically in each incarnation, as if in the grip of the classic abuse-victim’s multiple personality disorder. It’s the kind of story that could be happening in the city, not the country, on concrete pavements and in the glare of neon rather than sylvan hillsides and golden sunsets. This is a film that glows from the inside with its own awful secret.
~Peter Bradshaw, Guardian
1.22GB | 1h 21mn | 1021×552 | mkv