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László Nemes first film Son of Saul (Official Competiton, LFF 2015) debuted in competition at Cannes before winning the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar®. But Nemes doesn’t rest on his laurels with this feverishly ambitious second feature.

Please note VUE7 will screen the film digitally and Curzon Soho will screen a 35mm print.

Dir László Nemes
Prod Gábor Sipos, Gábor Rajna
Scr Clara Royer, Matthieu Taponier, László Nemes
With Juli Jakab, Vlad Ivanov, Marcin Czarnik
UK Distribution Curzon Artificial Eye

It is 1913, nearing the end of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and on the eve of the First World War. Írisz Leiter (a haunting Juli Jakab) is a hat maker who returns to Budapest years after being fostered under mysterious circumstances. Her parents had been respected milliners, owners of a shop bearing their name and who served both the wealthy and aristocracy. A whispered secret about why they’re no longer there casts a sinister pall over the shop. When Írisz tries to get work, the new owner is unsettled by her reappearance and politely, but firmly, buys her a ticket to leave the city. But Írisz doesn’t do anything she is told and soon finds herself pulled into the city’s dark turmoil and a mystery about her past. As the plot becomes less linear, the film’s dark beauty intensifies, Mátyás Erdély’s 35mm photography seems to contain distilled essence of half century of European arthouse cinema and an increasingly disquieting and anxious score suggests a darkness of the soul. Favouring poetry over the literal, Nemes’ gives us a fugue-like meditation on the end of an empire; the brilliantly wilful Írisz our witness to the flickering innocence of a Europe about to be plunged into hell.

Tricia Tuttle

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