Review: Kontroll

Kontroll is another “chill out” production at once lovely and sinister.

Photo: THINKFilm

The story of ticket controllers harassing customers inside a Budapest subway, Nimród Antal’s Kontroll explores a man’s looming sense of isolation from the world after a serial killer begins pushing people in front of oncoming trains. The motley brigade of inspectors includes a narcoleptic with a fondness for greasy food and causing elaborate scenes, a perpetually poker-faced older gentleman, a newbee with a hysterically weak stomach, and the mysterious Bulcsú (Sándor Csányi), who takes to sleeping inside the train station after the lights go out. Like Pen-Ek Ratanaruang’s Last Life in the Universe, Kontroll is another “chill out” production at once lovely and sinister: After a meet-cute with a girl who likes to dress up as a teddy bear, it becomes increasingly clear that Bulcsú—semi-spoiler alert—may be the film’s elusive hooded killer and that his bourgeoning love for Szofi (Eszter Balla) will save the day. If Last Life in the Universe was Christopher Doyle’s show, then Krontroll similarly belongs to Gyula Pados (a former assistant to Vilmos Zsigmond) and composer Neo, both of whom evoke the Budapest underground as a kind of industrial light show. In much the same way that the narrative’s non-stop panic lacks a social context, Bulcsú’s disconnect from the world starves for nuance, but the boys and girls are pretty to look at and the film itself is amusing and seductively dreamy—like being at a rave and coasting on a mellow tab of X.

 Cast: Sándor Csányi, Zoltán Mucsi, Csaba Pindroch, Sándor Badár, Zsolt Nagy, Bence Mátyási, Gyözö Szabó, Eszter Balla, Lajos Kovács, György Cserhalmi, Zsolt László, Balázs Mihályfi, Péter Scherer, János Kulka  Director: Nimród Antal  Screenwriter: Jim Adler, Nimród Antal  Distributor: THINKFilm  Running Time: 105 min  Rating: NR  Year: 2004  Buy: Video

Ed Gonzalez

Ed Gonzalez is the co-founder of Slant Magazine. His writing has also appeared in The Village Voice and The Los Angeles Times. He’s a member of the New York Film Critics Circle, the Critics Choice Association, and the Latino Entertainment Journalists Association.

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