The Man from London (A London férfi)
(Béla Tarr, Hungary, 2007) 135min
This article is from 2007.
Despite its troublesome and lengthy production history, Hungarian master auteur Béla Tarr’s newest film is another work of elegant despair. Closer to his 1988 film Damnation than the more recent Sátántangó or Werckmeister Harmonies in its length and narrative development, this adaptation of a Georges Simenon novel explores what happens when one night Maloin (Miroslav Krobot) really believes his ship has come in.
Maloin’s a night shift signal controller at a seaport who witnesses the disposal of a suitcase of stolen money, and decides to retrieve it. Will he be able to get away with the crime? There really isn’t much more to the story than that, but the director’s use of off-screen space, of elegant tracking shots and also his ability to use performers less for how they perform than how he chooses to shoot them, gives the film its hypnotic power. Add a typically melancholic soundtrack and we once again have a Tarr film that suggests greed, despair and unrealistic hope conjoin to arrive at a vision of near hell. Invoking the French poetic realist films exemplified by Marcel Carné’s 1938 classic Quai des Brumes Tarr builds an epic of poetic miserablism. Recommended. (Tony McKibbin)
Filmhouse, 623 8030, 7pm, £7.95 (£5.50).