Karrer lives a dull and miserable life. The one bright spark in it is the singer at the Titanik Bar, who he is obsessed with. She is married, but he is determined to keep her husband away…
Just because it focuses on the aimless existence of lowlife in a rainswept Hungarian coal town; and just because it's comprised of meticulously composed, exquisitely slow monochrome tracking shots, don't presume this is just another piece of Eastern European miserablism.
Director Béla Tarr and novelist Laszlo Krasznahorkai are as dogged in their pursuit of the morose Karrer (Székely) as he is of his former mistress (Kerekes), a singer at the aptly-named Titanic Bar, whose shiftless husband Karrer betrays en route to his very own living hell of lust, guilt and solitude. But this is much more than a stark, moving metaphor for a tottering Communist world. It's also solid proof that cinema's unique potential for artistic expression still remains largely untapped.
Not cheery, perhaps, but a gorgeously shot and beautifully composed piece that is not as depressing as it might appear.
Reviewed by David Parkinson