A group of Hungarian soldiers have been tasked with disciplining civilians and dispensing with any “partisans’’ in Dénes Nagy’s bleak second world war drama. Deep in a sodden forest, in what would’ve been occupied Ukraine, corporal István Semetka (Ferenc Szabó) is starting to question his role. Or so we’re encouraged to infer. The film offers few clues to his interior world. The audience is invited to project guilt, regret or perhaps trauma-induced numbness on to Szabó’s blank, ambivalent face.
Still, there’s a cold, sombre beauty to the compositions, which are rendered in varying shades of sludgy mud-brown. In theory, natural light is more forgiving than its artificial counterpart: in photographs, it makes the subject look less harsh. Less so here.
In cinemas and on Curzon Home Cinema