Katalin Varga

May 13, 20108:30 pm

A woman, Katalin, (Hilda Peter), is driven from her home by her husband when he finds out the child they have brought up is not his. Together mother and son travel across Romania by horse and cart, staying in the cheapest accommodation, making their way to the Hungarian-speaking part of the country and finally to a village that holds the secret of who the boy’s father really is – and the awful events associated with that night.

Katalin Varga is a revenge drama with a difference. Writer and first-time director, British-born Strickland gives it art-house rather than exploitation movie treatment and with the advantage of an outsider he exposes male and female attitudes that seem both universal and the product of specific historical circumstances, (Keith Hennesey Brown).

The film also raises questions about how much the position of women in society has changed in post-revolutionary years. Although Katalin has a Motorola, the trappings of her journey and attitudes towards her speak of much earlier times. And so it is that Katalin is a woman who can be vicious and loving, strong and weak, cruel and kind and who might have been simply loving and kind if violence had not bred violence.

Visually the film is terrific. The haunting photography of the Carpathian landscape, the evocation of threat from the forest plus the incidental music by Steven Stapleton and Geoff Cox combine to create an atmosphere of dread and eeriness. An excellent film repeatedly given four and five stars by reviewers.

At times we seem to be watching the reconstruction of an ancient folk tale, and Strickland, as if entrusted with its telling, hardly puts a foot wrong. Anthony Quinn, The Independent.

The film is a daunting combination of first-time film-maker and material that’s far easier to get wrong than right. Happily Strickland proves more than adequate to the challenge Keith Henessey Brown, EyeForFilm.co.uk

Katalin Varga
Film Information

Release year: 2009
Running time:   82 mins
Directed by: Peter Strickland
Country:Romania, UK
Starring:Hilda Peter,
Andrea Gavrilin,
Robert Giacomello,
Melina Kantor
Awards:Berlin Outstanding Artistic Contribution Sound Design,
European Film Awards European Discovery of the Year

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