A Londoni férfi
Hungary, 2007, 132 minutes
Fri, May 2 / 8:50 / PFA / MAN02P
Tue, May 6 / 3:00 / Kabuki / MAN06K
Thu, May 8 / 7:30 / Kabuki / MAN08K
Sinister strangers lurking in shadows. A pilfered suitcase jammed with cash. Dubious alibis, criminal cover-ups and world-weary detectives. Could these well-worn tropes of film noir possibly surface in a Béla Tarr flick? Best known—and often feared, by all but the staunchest cineastes—for epic-length existential dazzlers such as the seven-hour Sátántangó (SFIFF 1995), the legendary Hungarian director does indeed venture into previously uncharted territory here, adapting a pulp fiction by prolific Belgian paperbacker Georges Simenon. Tarr isn’t so much taken with genre conventions, however, as he is fascinated by the disastrous impulses that lead his characters into mortal, and moral, danger. The story is superficially simple: Malion, a switchman at a seaside railway station, witnesses what appears to be the robbery of a satchel and the deliberate drowning of its rightful owner. In the aftermath of this mysterious incident, our inscrutable antihero absconds with the sought-after valise, shocks his wife and daughter with his newfound riches and ultimately pays a psychic price for his transgression. This noir narrative provides ample opportunity for Tarr to tarry in the gray zone of right and wrong, chance and destiny; his cops-and-robbers ruse is not so much a whodunit as a why. With its endless tracking shots, wheezing accordion score, bleakly beautiful chiaroscuro and unflinching close-ups of faces straight out of Eastern European art film central casting—not to mention a surprising performance by Academy Award–winner Tilda Swinton—The Man from London is, for patient viewers, a hypnotic, oddly invigorating anti-thriller that rewards far more than the British banknotes blamed for its hapless protagonist’s turmoil.
Sponsored by Factor Design.