Kontroll, like Donnie Darko (which I have also reviewed), belies classification. Unless we create a classification for mood pieces, like ambient music, these movies will continue to be misunderstood because they will not hit their target market by being labeled as mysteries or thrillers. Someone expecting a mystery-thriller like The Sixth Sense or Se7en will be very disappointed. That said it isnt at all a bad movie, just one for which you need to put aside expectations.
The movie centers mainly on a band of 5 misfits who are ticket inspectors in the Budapest subway system; they are essentially a step above total slackers but are all hail-fellows-well-met in their own rights. Several people have died recently in the subway by falling, jumping, or being pushed onto the tracks as a train approaches. The movie begins with this and ends with it, but most of the time between is spent in various other areas. The story is like any subway system, it goes in many directions, but finally all the trains end in the same place they started.
What makes this move worth watching wasnt the mystery; that turns out to be more of a distraction than not. Ticket inspectors are a form of sub-police (pun intended). They are pretty much despised or, at the very most, tolerated. So the band of misfits makes the best of their underground ambit by having their forms of fun as much as possible. Their world is somewhat similar in both tone and grime to the one David Fincher creates in Fight Club. Also like that movie, Kontroll is filled with funny and sometimes downright hilarious moments.
The focus of most of the humor occurs in two montages where the story focuses on the 5 doing their jobs. These moments are literally laugh out loud funny. Mr. Antals direction is perhaps best displayed during these two extended montages, not only because of the humor, but because the camera work matches the mood so clearly.
Kontroll is Mr. Antals first movie, so that it is a little rough in places is to be expected, but as a first work it is impressive. The movie never moves toward the scatological, overly sexual, or gratuitous gore that tend to drive so many directors first movies. In this way, to be cliché and blunt, Kontroll is in fact very controlled.
Music and imagery, particularly the play of light and pitch black (not just dark) help round out this movie. The music is brilliantly fitting and presented at a volume that makes it less than background noise (like the music in Run Lola Run). And the light/dark and the grime and near claustrophobia Mr. Antal creates is very much like that created by David Finchereven the color palate which is mostly earth tones (even the bright clothing some of the characters wear is tinged with grime) is very much like the palate Mr. Fincher used in Fight Club and Se7en.
As a tone/mood piece, Kontroll is worth viewing; as a mystery or thriller it is not. This is the bold exception to the usual thriller where the plot seems tacked on like dialog in a porn flick. Here, the mystery seems tacked into what is otherwise a funny slacker movie. In the beginning you get the sense youre watching a serial killer movie, then it becomes a slacker movie, then in the end you are faced not with a potential serial killer so much as one mans unspoken demons and the trite way they are dispelled. It even ends with a kiss that only fails being a big Hollywood kiss because it was filmed in Budapestthe action is the same, the location isnt.
Kontroll requires a good deal of attention so it isnt a movie used for relaxation. The performances are very good, the film quality is excellent; the story is the only place where it is lacking. I recommend it to film buffs, but not to casual viewers.
Viewing Format: DVD
Video Occasion: Good for a Rainy Day
Suitability For Children: Suitable for Children Age 13 and Older
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