Katalin Varga

Film, Drama
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Katalin Varga
British writer-director-producer Peter Strickland has decamped to the Transylvanian countryside to fashion a moody and satisfyingly archaic debut drama about a scrawny, middle-aged mother whose sudden lust for vengeance is purely primal. The enigmatic Katalin Varga (Hilda Peter) is ostracised from her village and rejected by her loving husband when a horrid discrepancy from her past comes to light. Shedding no tears, she collects her son Orbàn (Norbert Tanko), gathers up her few belongings and heads off on horse and cart ‘to visit grandmother’. The purpose of – and not to mention her violent commitment to – her mission becomes apparent late in the film, as a series of brutal encounters suggest that she may not be as mentally balanced as we initially assume.

Strickland’s intricate screenplay thrives on not letting us see around the next corner until the very last moment – scenes are often trailed with mysterious preambles, such as when Katalin seduces a man around a campfire and then follows him to a bar before her intentions become clear. Visually, Strickland portrays the same, Romany milieu as Tony Gatlif does but clearly with his mind on the desolate landscapes of the American western. Technical flourishes, such as deploying dense soundscapes of white noise and ambient yelping, imbue unremarkable scenes with a brooding, ambiguous tension. There’s the occasional contrivance to shunt the story onwards, but it’s not enough to cloud the fact that Strickland and his star, Peter, have delivered a film of remarkable assurance and intensity.

By: David Jenkins


Release details

Rated: 15
Release date: Friday October 9 2009
Duration: 85 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Peter Strickland
Screenwriter: Peter Strickland
Cast: Norbert Tanko
Hilda Peter
Andrea Gavriliu
Roberto Giacomello
Melinda Kántor
Attila Kozma

Average User Rating

3.8 / 5

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1 person listening

I enjoyed this film, a simple story set in an unusual landscape and societyl. Given the pap on general release at the moment this is a good escape and you won't need to shell out for 3D glasses.


Sad, gripping story that stays with you for days. Fantastic kandscape, striking faces, musical and sound reminiscences of Shining and Hukkle. Highly recommended.