A feature debut from György Kristóf, Out is the diverting tale of a middle-aged Slovakian who up sticks to Latvia after suffering redundancy at his local power plant. There are some amusing moments as the gap-toothed Ágoston (Sándor Terhes) feels his way to another world in almost childlike fashion. He faces prejudice, dismissiveness and ignorance but generally takes it on the chin, quarrelling only with blatant unfairness and obvious wrongdoing. What he’s seeking, however, is never abundantly clear.
Ágoston leaves his wife (Éva Bandor) and daughter (Judit Bárdos) at home for his journey into the Baltic States. Quickly, both family members seem to be doing just fine without him. His wife has replaced his armchair with a large plant; his daughter has found a boyfriend. The stable domesticity seems to prevent Ágoston’s return, even when losing his new job in the new country after a heavy drinking session with a Santa Claus lookalike. Stranger people occupy him on his peculiar, disaggregated path of development. Grass-picking Gaida (Guna Zarina) attends a metal concert with him and offloads a hideous, earless taxidermy rabbit. We never see her again. Next, a borderline unhinged Russian (Viktor Nemets) offers to drive Ágoston north in order to fish. Instead, the wild-eyed loudmouth takes him to a shrine dedicated to his wife and then on to his isolated and unfinished home. There, the surgically disfigured partner (Ieva Aleksandrova-Eklone) actually resides. Kristóf depicts her as a monstrosity, with lips the size of two prime steaks piled on top of each other – this comes across as a little sneering, unfortunately. The setting, however, creates the most extraordinary scene in the film as the incongruous trio imbibes vodka to the point of conflict. As tempers rise, we can only eye the ugly, gauche portraits of the couple on the wall. These paintings are truly a wonder, although Ágoston won’t have long to appreciate them.
Kristóf handles our Gulliver’s journey with assuredness and there are some lovely shots inside a fisherman’s net that bookend the movie. In fact, there is a lot to admire here, from the curious script, perceptive performances and pleasing cinematography. But even the moments of absurdity never truly stand out, and the broadly grim palette makes it indistinguishable from many of the mid-ranking, worthy films in Cannes’ Un Certain Regard.
Out does not have a UK release date yet.
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