This is the earliest Béla Tarr film I've seen so far, and it's easy to place in his chronology - while the characters are honest and hold nothing back, they could just as easily have been found 'oop North' in an early Ken Loach film. This does not mean it bears no relevance to Tarr's development as a director - far from it - but as a standalone film, it is not particularly important. As in most of Tarr's films, the moments of joy are there if you choose to see them, but here they are easier to spot, perhaps because they stand out from the temperature of the rest of the film. One scene that sticks in my head is that of the chanteuse playfully picking a "real man" out of the audience for entertainment. It contrasts wonderfully with Judit Pogány's timid housewife character, struggling to hold on to a relationship with a far-from-perfect man. The performances are impressive and you could be forgiven for thinking you were watching a documentary. But in all honesty, it is not as compelling or fulfilled as his other films. I feel 7/10 is a fair evaluation.
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