Sunset (2018)

LASZLO NEMES

Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBBB

Original title:  Napszállta

/, 2018, , Screenplay by László Nemes, , Cinematography by Mátyás ErdélyProduced by , , Gábor Rajna, Gábor Sipos, François YonMusic by László MelisProduction Design by László RajkCostume Design by Györgyi SzakácsFilm Editing by Matthieu Taponier.  Toronto International Film Festival 2018Venice Film Festival 2018.  

In Budapest on the eve of the first World War, a young woman named Irisz walks into an expensive boutique and lets the owner know that she is applying for a job as a milliner.  They politely decline her any employment owing to their staff being at full capacity, but when she reveals her last name it changes everything: she is actually the daughter of the previous owners of the store, who died when she was an infant and resulted in her being sent away to apprentice in Trieste.  She learns that she has a brother that she never knew about, which turns her focus to finding him but, when she does, finds she needs to get away from him; the next step plunges her into a nightmare of the city’s underworld involving shady men, the women they take advantage of and the rigid class system that keeps a lot of injustice in place.  Told in lengthy, languid takes that follow Irisz through the city as she ignores all danger to herself in her desire to get to the truth, this elegant, almost elegaic look at an old world on the cusp of change is a rapturous work of art.  It takes on the barest form of a mystery except that the protagonist isn’t amassing a series of clues, it’s happenstance that takes her from one situation to the next and yet, with the expert level of control coming from behind the camera, this has an intense feeling that never comes across as scattered or convenient.  Devastating events are part of the same rhythm of life that the hooves of horses and sight of gas lamps inhabit, and as Irisz keeps an incredible strength in her gaze while blending into the steady, humming rhythm of director Laszlo Nemes’ camerawork and editing.

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