Afterlife: A film in high spirits
by Laurence Boyce
- The Hungarian movie that opened Karlovy Vary’s East of the West competition has a satisfying oddness about it
An accomplished and quirky comedy that opened the East of the West Competition at this year’s Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, Hungarian film Afterlife [+see also:
interview: Virág Zomborácz
film profile] – the feature debut by Virág Zomborácz – is something of a delight. With some truly funny set pieces nestled within a world of misfits tinged with a hint of a ghost story, it’s a gratifyingly strange film.
Mózes can never seem to live up to his pastor father’s expectations, so when his father dies suddenly, it seems the pressure that has been exerted on him all his life has now vanished. But then Mózes notices his father’s ghost, who is unable to speak but follows him everywhere. Mózes must now try to find some way to exorcise the spirit. As he engages in a series of tasks that he believes will get rid of his father’s presence, his life slowly begins to change. But as his father also regains awareness, will Mózes regress to the old times?
Zomborácz has a deft touch when it comes to dark comedy, with the ability to throw the audience off-kilter via an absurd cutaway (such as the ghost gently rocking away in a child’s playground) and a number of expertly choreographed scenes such as a disastrous Nativity play in which everything that can go wrong does. But the darker elements are also definitely present, and for all the hilarity, there’s also a painful examination of parental control and the desire to strike out on one’s own. And dog lovers might be advised to steel themselves for certain moments near the film’s conclusion.
Márton Kristóf is great in the lead role of the nebbish Mózes, being both chaotically clumsy and resolutely sympathetic, while László Gálffi is dominating and brooding as the film’s supernatural presence.
With a good buzz already very much present at Karlovy Vary, this should be a crowd pleaser at festivals (unless you’re one of the aforementioned dog lovers) and a safe bet for international distribution.