A film about a family's everyday life in a socialist country
I liked it a whole lot, while at the same time this film has absolutely nothing to do with Sátántangó Béla. This I knew before I watched it, which is why I didn't really expect to like it. The only thing it has in common with his more recent films (starting with 'Damnation') is that it doesn't have much that you could call a plot, but it IS very straight-forward.
"Plot": It's no more than a very simple portrayal of a couple with two kids. The man is working as a "button-pusher" while the woman watches the kids at home.
She cries and yells a lot. He tries to evade her as good as possible to spend his time watching TV, reading the paper, playing pool, drinking beer with his workmates,...
She wants: -To be with him more often. -Some quality time with the family. -And also some quality time for herself, walking around in pretty dresses, doing girl's stuff. She doesn't actually know what she wants because she lacks interest in any hobbies, nor does she have any friends apart from her family.
He wants: -Freedom to do whatever he wants to do at any given moment.- Enough money to buy all the stuff one has to have to have made it in life (e.g.: a car, a house,...). He doesn't actually know what he wants, because he is stuck with one woman, he isn't a rock star, he isn't the world's most popular man, he isn't filthy rich,...
About the style of 'The Prefab People': The film certainly isn't noteworthy for its visual appeal. The whole movie is shot hand-held. There is a preference for long shots but neither are they meticulously planned nor does Béla Tarr limit himself to only using long shots. Dialogue scenes are rather conventionally edited, with cutting back and forth. The camera points at the preferred action and that's basically it. Rarely it shows characters "doing nothing". It's dialogue-heavy and the dialogue is very basic, or "real", if you want to call it that. No poetic stuff or monologues.
It's like a Michael Haneke film for Hungarians. But not as judgmental of its characters and the result of unfulfilling, monotonous, invisible imprisonment in socialism are frustrated human beings, rather than anti-social and eventually violent ones, as in Haneke's films. I've read that it's like a Cassavetes film, but I wouldn't know anything about that. Other than of Haneke I was also reminded of early Fassbinder. If it played in Germany and the cast was speaking German, it would have worked just as well. The film's title could have been: "Why Does Herr F. Go Away?"
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