Enchanting magic realism in Free Fall
by Saara Vahermägi
- After the visually impressive Final Cut: Ladies and Gentlemen, György Pálfi is back with an extravagant new venture
György Pálfi’s latest feature, Free Fall [+see also:
film profile], can be described as a demonstration of a powerful visual style peppered with elements of the grotesque, surrealism and absurdity. Set to be screened this week at the CinEast Festival as well as at the Hungarian Film Week, Free Fall tells the story of an old woman who is fed up with her miserable life. She takes her bags and shopping cart up the stairs and jumps off the roof of her building. But, in a dark-humoured twist, she miraculously survives and has to climb up the stairs all over again. On her way up, she passes the different flats in her building. The viewer is introduced to the small worlds inside these apartments, each one telling a story more incredible than the last – a guru pushing his levitating pupil down, accusing him of being too vain; a trophy fiancée mingling at a fancy party while completely naked; a hyper-hygienic couple, who make love through plastic to avoid bodily contact; a Korean-style sitcom about an awkward threesome; a woman who wants her baby put back inside her; and finally, a boy who seems to be the only one who sees a full-sized bull in the flat.
Despite representing a spectrum of different genres (from sci-fi to social realism), all the stories the old woman encounters on her way up share a common sense of dark humour and absurdity. The strong surrealism in the stories makes it possible to interpret them in countless ways, but they are all visually captivating enough to keep the audience attentive and interested throughout the movie. Pálfi’s extravagant directorial style is complemented by futuristic electronic music by Amon Tobin, which from the outset of the film makes the viewer sense that strange things are about to happen.
Free Fall was commissioned by the Jeonju Film Festival for this year's Jeonju Digital Project, which has annually introduced three short films, but as of this year launched three full-length movies. Since premiering at Jeonju, Free Fall has gone on to win numerous awards, including the Best Director Award and Special Jury Prize at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.