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9/10
Kontroll
(Control)
2003

A strange underground world of tunnels, tracks and quirky characters. Kontroll is a film about the weird and wonderful fauna of controllers (subway ticket inspectors), drivers and other regulars of the Budapest subway system.

Kontroll drags you down into a world of phantasmagoric images and allows you to delve into a surreal mix of reality and dream. The film centres around the captivating character of Bulcsú (Sándor Csányi, who deservedly won three awards for his performance) who has removed himself from the world of light and success and is loosing himself to the grasp of this luring underground greyness full of loveable outcasts: A narcoleptic controller, a drunken train driver, a girl wandering around in a pink bear suit... These secondary characters are interwoven to create a web of dislocated misfits who float in a stagnant dimension full of meaningless and dead-ends, and yet it is a dimension full of speed, humour and longing; and shafts of light.

Whilst this dislocated underground routine ticks over as usual with is rivalries and complicities, a hooded figure appears and starts pushing people under trains - a drunken prostitute, a businessman, and then Bootsie, the likeable rogue who is a thorn in the side of the controllers. The only problem is that these deaths lack a little symbolic coherence. Maybe a benevolent watcher will fill in the gaps to create more meaning than originally intended, or maybe the meaning is there but requires a little too much effort to be unveiled. That said, it is not enough to stop the film from being a wonderful breath of underground air.

Kontroll is a great ride through Bulscú's subconscious -maybe even a collective subconscious that somehow becomes your own- which recreates a social structure full of isolation and individuals yearning for something more.

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