Director: Attila Szász
Writer: Attila Szász
Producer: Dalma Hidasi
Starring: Vitéz Ábrahám, Ernõ Fekete, Dóra Létay
Country of Origin: Hungary
Running time: 30 min
When I received the request to take a look at the screener for this short film and give my thoughts on it, the title intrigued me, but I was even more interested in the cover art. I know, I know; never judge a book (or a DVD) by its cover. But sometimes one just can’t help themselves. The cover is caring and heartfelt, yet at the same time a little bit creepy. A mother and child silhouetted on a back porch in front of what looks to be a warm, inviting home. But just inside the home is a shadowy figure that looks slightly haunting and menacing. Great cover.
So given the title, imagine my surprise when the DVD arrives and it’s actually a subtitled Hungarian film entitled, Most látszom, most nem látszom (Now You See Me Now You Don’t). It’s not very often I’m asked to screen and review a film out of Hungary. In fact, I’m not even sure if I’ve ever seen any films from that country. So now even more intrigued, I dropped the film in the DVD player. Wow.
The film takes place all in a single household of a couple who seem to have a struggling relationship. But more than just the usual bickering or silent treatments, there seems to be something deeper to this emotional void – something almost sinister. The man is a scientist or inventor of some sort and on the day the film is set, he brings his work home with him; which appears to be some sort of method of making people invisible. Not soon after, the mother is encountered by her son whom she can’t see. Has the father secretly been conducting experiments on their son? Has the boy been monkeying around with the equipment or has something else happened? The plot twists a bit a leaves us guessing to the end. Not an easy task in 30 minutes.
What lashes out to the viewer right away is the fantastic directing style. The camera seems to always be in motion and giving us something new to look at. But this isn’t the anoying shakey cam or frantic movement cam that you might expect. The shots are slow and deliberate. Some of the tracking shots seem to go on forever, uncut, and give great emotional impact to the visuals.
Every angle is different and interesting. At no time are any of the shots typical and it’s apparent that this little indie film must have had some sort of budget behind it. Several camera tracking shots fly right out of a window or smoothly climb stairs. One shot in particular steadies on several characters on the ground as the camera shoots straight upward, while rain falls straight downward all around. It was a very thought out shot and did wonders for the film.
The entire picture is like this. Everything appears very deliberate and well thought out. The warm colors and tones juxtaposed with harsh whites and bare walls make for, although beautiful, an almost surreal scene. Many lingering shots of just a stove top or a garden hose are made to look interesting in their respective cameos. The film is full of these shots.
The acting is pretty fantastic too for a short film with only three characters and a 30 minute length. Especially the lead actress: Dóra Létay. She pretty much carries the movie and the scene in which she follows her invisible son throughout the house from his point of view is fascinating.
Taking a quick left turn with the plot, the movie is more than an acceptable watch at any time. The director has made something here that has me more than intrigued to see more. A full length feature could easily be one of the best of the year should the director choose to do so. The story, although usually essential to a film, would likely be secondary to the stunning cinematography and the directing style of Attila Szász. This is worth the watch and definitely worth a re-watch… and a re-watch. Quite honestly I can’t really think of anything negative to say about the picture (and that’s RARE!). I can’t wait to see more from Szász.