The Man From London

Film

677.x600.film.manfrom.jpg

Time Out rating:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>3</span>/5

User ratings:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>3</span>/5
Rate this
 

Time Out says

Tue Dec 9 2008

The stock noir constituents of nefarious criminal deeds, male existential malaise and bluesy chiaroscuro mise-en-scène comprise this violently brooding latest from Hungarian doyen of the slow-cooked metaphorical saga, Béla Tarr. The story centres on Maloin (Miroslav Krobot), a brusque railway switchman who appropriates a suitcase full of banknotes after he witnesses a bungled drop-off on the dockside beneath his watchtower, then, not knowing how to follow-up his criminal impulse, swiftly rejects his family and his morals. In tone, it reminds of Godard’s ‘Alphaville’ and Lynch’s ‘Blue Velvet’, especially the idea of innocence (such as it is) lost at the hands of reckless endeavour, and Tarr’s ingenious use of visual repetition brilliantly conveys how crushing, silent guilt slowly forces Maloin into a psychological corner.

Yet, there are problems: the choice of ‘straight’ source material – one of Belgian writer Georges Simenon’s lesser-known pulp crime novellas –instantly clasps a stranglehold on the film’s intentions, carelessly dividing viewer attention between a disposable criminal plot, and a broader discussion on themes of theft, murder, shame and voyeurism. Visually, too, we’re only allowed a diluted rendition of that now-legendary ‘Tarr touch’ – the magisterial, minutely orchestrated black-and-white creeping camerawork. The sound, so rich and mysterious in past work, is here limited to tapping hammers in the middle distance and groaning accordion dirges which do little to cover-up in this released version the clumsy French dubbing of its Hungarian and British cast (which includes Tilda Swinton).

Yet, although the film’s overall meaning remains open – perhaps, too open (after its Cannes premiere, for instance, one critic told me they thought it was a musical) – ‘The Man from London’ lacks the grandiose  ‘cosmic’ intimations of the director’s past work, and though it contains many moments of sublime cinematic choreography, this is finally good Tarr, but not great Tarr.

0

Reviews

Add +

Release details

Cast and crew

Cast:

Miroslav Krobot, Tilda Swinton, Istvan Lénárt

Cinematography:

Fred Keleman

Director:

Béla Tarr

Users say

0
<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>0</span>/5
LiveReviews|4
1 person listening
Patrick Quinn

This is why critics should not be read.This is simply dull.Hope for toothache instead. Avoid any critic who has enjoyed this film.

Anthony Kane Evans

The plot is far too thin for Tarr to drape all his symbolism over. It makes the symbolism unbearably clunky. The pace is, however, the real killer and I'm well versed in the films of Tarkovksy so there is nothing wrong with my stomach muscles. There are lots of odd things in this film. LIke, it's in Hungarian - at least the version I saw - yet the police inspector and the main criminals are british yet also speak Hungarian. This aspect of the film didn't seem like it was too well worked out. Also, I felt Tilda Swinton was rather miscast as a Hungarian lower-class housewife. She just didn't look like a woman whose life must be one of drudgery. The French film Jonas Mikas (in the above review) mentions is L'Homme de Londres (Fr. 43.Henri Decoin). Temptation Harbour was made a few years later (GB.47.Lance Comfort).

S.LeBas

At its premiere at the NY Film Festival 10/30 we sat in row B center: riveting! (I.e., it's about the big screen, not the mini-console). Hyper-whites that seared the screen, 3D textures that are beyond 3D, but more importantly this new intensely long faceshot (not an internal monologue): this silver-screened mirror that creates an inexplicable intimacy (causing at least a fifth of this "New Yuck" audience to walk out). The idioscyncracies of Bela Tarr's direction are advanced in this unbelievably terse script and plot with processional trolley shots that move every-which-way, the human jolts of impromptu music and dance, non-gestural silence that advances the plot, etc. Anglophone film "criticism" speaks about breaking/going beyond the frame. Tarr, now, long after Tarkovsky and so differently from Sukorov, can move the viewer into dimensions of thought that move energetically around the camera, that have nothing to do with the frame. To an American this is antidotal human cinema. And Noire beyond Noire? What a delight! Hollywood must think : "Que la bête meure!"

S.LeBas

At its premiere at the NY Film Festival 10/30 we sat in row B center: riveting! (I.e., it's about the big screen, not the mini-console). Hyper-whites that seared the screen, 3D textures that are beyond 3D, but more importantly this new intensely long faceshot (not an internal monologue): this silver-screened mirror that creates an inexplicable intimacy (causing at least a fifth of this "New Yuck" audience to walk out). The idioscyncracies of Bela Tarr's direction are advanced in this unbelievably terse script and plot with processional trolley shots that move every-which-way, the human jolts of impromptu music and dance, non-gestural silence that advances the plot, etc. Anglophone film "criticism" speaks about breaking/going beyond the frame. Tarr, now, long after Tarkovsky and so differently from Sukorov, can move the viewer into dimensions of thought that move energetically around the camera, that have nothing to do with the frame. To an American this is antidotal human cinema. And Noire beyond Noire? What a delight! Hollywood must think : "Que la bête meure!"