Director Laszlo Nemes’ nascent Academy Award winning “Son of Saul” tipped the scales in mind-crunching innovation, revolutionary emotional upheaval, allowing the viewer to walk in the shoes of a prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp, metaphorically choking on Zyklon B gas; existence, a circumstantial whim of fate; a manifestation, incarnation of palpable evil, touched by the refined embodiment of man’s religiosity.
“Sunset”, Nemes’ sophomore attempt lacks the intense fervor, compelling addictive story line of “Son of Saul”; my anticipation, leery at first, eventually cauterized by the clouded, dreamlike journey of “Irisz Leiter” (Juli Jakad), meandering the streets of Budapest in 1913, looking for a brother (“Kalman/Sandor”, Marcin Czarnik) she never knew she had. Nemes’ the “Prince of Photographic Darkness” intimately embraces his protagonist, pruriently caresses every breath, not a glance or grimace goes undocumented; Jakad’s compelling countenance resonates with an inner effervescence, no debasement or perpetual night, can quell.
Irisz’s quest leads her into the nary hands of debauched bourgeoise, crusading anarchists, a daft countess, fissures leading to the dissolvement of the Austro-Hungarian Empire (1867-1918); instead of clairvoyance, vagueness, befuddlement obfuscate the significance of the film.
“Sunset” at times, haunting, but subjectively unsatisfying; Irisz, a specter, fading in and out of unexplained circumstances; possibly the “eye of the camera” recording what was and will never be again.
TWO & 1/2 STARS!!