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In the beautiful, otherworldly Carpathian Mountains a woman is traveling with a small boy in a horse and cart, looking to punish those who once abused her. For years, Katalin has been keeping a terrible secret. Hitchhiking with two men, she was brutally raped in the woods. Although she has kept silent about what happened, she has not forgotten, and her son Órban serves as a living reminder. When her village discovers her secret, Katalin's husband rejects her. With nothing to lose, she is free to seek revenge on the perpetrators. As she puts human faces to horrible acts, she is forced to consider that morality might not be as black and white as she had imagined. Written by
Santa Barbara Intl Film Festival
I borrowed the DVD from a local store, being sure that this is going to be a good movie. I read good reviews of it. Now I'm quite disappointed after seeing it. The movie is good enough until the scene where the woman is telling her rape experience finishes. The story of the rape is the best part. As the camera focused on the characters' faces, Katalin tells her horrific story, disconnected from the suffering that we would expect. That gives the character a lot of power. She is in a position of control, she overcame the bad experience and her main weapon is the truth, because the truth will really ruin the precious relationship of Katalin's aggressor with his wife. The story of the rape is told in such intimate detail, that you may feel various emotions, like empathy, justice being done, concern for any of the characters, each of them may be in a dangerous position. The situation is very much like one from Sadoveanu's novel "Baltagul". After this wonderful artistic moment, the rest of the movie is full of broken links. The man's regret for what he has done is very unrealistic, not that this might not happen in real life, but his state is not supported by the play and the character's story. Then, the suffering for the loss of his wife is too short. The wife, a devoted Christian, commits suicide (that's possible, but not very probable) without many explanations given to us. The man suffers too little after that because he is quite preoccupied with his relation with Katalin and her son. Many other disharmonious details disconnected me from the movie. I also have some personal regrets, that the Romanians in the movie are all mean characters. There's no obvious reason in a movie where 99 percent of the time you have Hungarian language speaking, only three short but significant dialogues are in Romanian. In one of them we have the girls eating sunflower seeds that are not helping the strangers in need without judging or mocking them. Eating sunflowers in public in Romania is associated with low class, specially because it's a Balkan habit mostly associated with gypsies. Speaking of gypsies, I can not get over the idea that the first victim of Katalin is associated with Gypsies and undoubtedly this is part of the construction of an evil character. The other two scenes with Romanians are the ones involving the vengeful criminals, one of them showing a twisted faith in God. Anyway, it could have been a good movie, but amateurish errors and a bit of xenophobia (I suppose) ruined it for me. I may keep in mind as good parts: landscapes, music and the boat scene.
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