Reviewed By The Ultimate Dancing Machine
Posted 01/12/03 23:27:31

"Hungarian pastoral"
4 stars (Worth A Look)

(SCREENED AT THE 2003 PALM SPRINGS INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL.) Evidently, the Hungarians are a weirder bunch than anyone thought. The program described it as “MICROCOSMOS meets TWIN PEAKS,” a nifty summary that I have too much pride to steal. In any event, it’s a one-of-a-kind venture into everyday surrealism, featuring virtually no dialogue—in other words, if you don’t like reading subtitles, that doesn’t apply here.

HUKKLE is rather difficult to describe: the “plot” (yes, it has to be in quotes) is only a series of apparently disconnected scenes from rural life: a cat frolics in the grass, insects burrow through the dirt, an old man hiccups incessantly on his front porch. An odd tone prevails, equal parts whimsy and dread, and eventually all the bits and pieces begin to coalesce: for some reason a lot of these critters, human and animal alike, are dying suddenly….

Beautifully shot and in all technical categories very accomplished for an Eastern European film, HUKKLE nonetheless proved to be a trying experience for the audience I viewed it with; more than a few people walked early. I’m sure the film’s seeming pointlessness was the cause—but if you wait long enough, your patience will pay off. (Incidentally, remember to stick around for the scene after the end credits.) An absorbing post-modernist exercise, it plays best if you know how to delight in mystery and ambiguity—if you didn’t like EYES WIDE SHUT, HUKKLE might be tough slog indeed.

Certainly a strange one, but it’s extremely well made. Don’t be surprised if it’s nominated for a Best Foreign Film Oscar.

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