“ Genre: Crime & Thriller / Suitable for 15 years and over / Director: Peter Strickland / Actors: Hilda Peter, Tibor Palffy, Norbert Tanko, Melinda Kantor ... / DVD released 2010-02-22 at Artificial Eye / Features of the DVD: PAL, Subtitled, Widescreen, Dolby, Digital Sound „
Certificate - 15
Run Time - 80 minutes
Country - Romania
Director - Peter Strickland
Genre - Drama
When Blair got into power the first thing he did was open the floodgates to the worlds strays, asylum seekers pouring in from all over the place, followed by most of Eastern Europe, leaked documents admitting it was deliberate to flood Tory constituencies with people who, when given the right to vote, presumably would vote Labor. And with that came a new types of crime, honor attacks the most sadistic and pathetic of the lot, the subject of this atmospheric tale from Romania\Hungary.
In Northampton we had two of these killings in the early days of the mass migration, a shock to the system and, indeed the town, hard to get your head around, groups of young Eastern European men chasing down their victims and stabbing them to death, all over some petty feud that may or may not have bought dishonor to their family back in the Balkans, females usually on the end of this disgusting crime, again the main theme to Katalin Varga. We even had a case in nearby Birmingham where the parents actually killed their daughter because she was dating some guy of the wrong religion and skin color and so she not keen on her arranged marriage being forced on her, all for a £17,000 dowry. Katalin Varga, absorbs, dissects and humiliates the absurdity of honor crime.
Hilda Péter ... Katalin Varga
Norbert Tankó ... Orbán Varga
László Mátray ... Zsigmond Varga
Roberto Giacomello ... Gergely
Tibor Pálffy ... Antal Borlan
Melinda Kántor ... Etelka Borlan
Sebastian Marina ... Gergely's Brother-in-Law
Attila Kozma ... Accomplice
Enikö Szabó ... Zsuzsa
Pretty and hardworking Hungarian village girl Katalin Varga (Hilda Péter) and wife to Zsigmond Varga (Laszlo Mátray) has betrayed her mans honor by hiding a terrible secret from him, discovered when he learns that their 10-year-old son Orbán Varga (Norbert Tankó) is not his. Shamed, she is rejected by him and expelled from the family home.
Jumping on her horse and cart with Orban in tow the only way to win back her man is to right the wrong from that terrible night ten years ago that bought about Orban, vengeance again burning strong, driving her on to a village deep in the misty and magical Carpathian Mountains with another 'snap' of the reigns, where she intends to seek out the people who did what they did. The spooky woods seem to be calling her and when the first man is struck down with a rock after she seduces him she is soon being pursued by the family of the men who now have to take their honor back from Katalina.
Antal Borlan (Tibor Pálffy) is her second target, a rural farmer married to Etelka Borlan (Melinda Kántor). He too was there that night and yet lives with no guilt. But how will Katalina take her vengeance when Etelka has done nothing wrong and very much a woman like her and dependent on her man and so not worthy of losing her husband, the never-ending cycle of honor crime that has kept the Balkans in the dark ages for a very long time rolling on blindly.
Incredibly, Brit debut director Peter Strickland made this visually impressive and atmospheric film for just £28,000 pounds (presumably most of that extortion money on location). After a string of reasonably well paid jobs in Reading the director is quoted as saying 'should I make a film in Transylvania or buy a flat in Bracknell? ... Very David Brent. It's an impressive debut film though and earned five awards across Europe's film festivals, a lovely performance by Hilda Péter in the lead to compliment it, brilliant and haunted as the familiar oppressed Eastern European woman, seemingly carrying the burden of all the women of the world, exposing just how cruel and backwards society is for the female of the species in Borat country, the men allowed to sleep around, get drunk, and generally misbehave when married but God forbid the women for the slightest indiscretion, whether they did the things or not.
The mesmeric and steamy mountains of Transylvania washed over by the haunting soundtrack are as tough and beautiful as the lead actress performance and together create the atmosphere and conflict between the two that defines the films spooky folklore like mood, intense, dark and grim throughout, the mist always thick enough to cover over the cracks because of the lack of budget as the mystery unfolds. Apparently the film crew really roughed it out on the Hungarian-Romanian border and it shows, the film engrained with that gothic Eastern European feel and rustic misery it needs to work. You really wouldn't know it was directed by a Brit who lived in Slough. This guy will go far.
It builds nicely and once you realize what Katalins revenge is all about you get behind the film. It's a feminist film for most part as most of the guys are two-dimensional sexist and the women downtrodden, Romania, like most of the Muslim third world, seemingly run on an often feudal machismo. The feminist will cheer on Katalin through the film but the boys will win out.
The Times - "Impressive as it is, though, you can't help feeling it's essentially a festival favorite that will be more admired than enjoyed".
The St Louis Spirit -"Be warned, this is an intense, dark story where no one makes the right decisions. If you can handle that, Katalin Varga will be a name you won't forget".
The Independent -" A slow-moving, insistently gripping, faintly Dostoyevskian tale of violence and retribution set in the swooningly photographed Hungarian countryside"
The Guardian -"Artistic and insightful, this sharply well-made film has an emotional resonance that becomes thoroughly haunting as the story travels to places we don't expect it to go. A sense of foreboding terror keeps us gripped, as does an underlying hope"
Imdb.com - 7.0/10.0 (1,425 votes)
Rottentomatos.com - 95% approval rati