After The Day Before

After The Day Before


Reviewed by: Trinity

A man (Tibor Gaspar) arrives in a remote rural village seeking an abandoned property he has inherited from a distant relative. It is a warm, dusty landscape with a sparse scattering of buildings and an odd set of inhabitants.

Travelling around on a rusty bike, this out of place stranger discovers weird isolating peculiarities: a single seashell, a faint scent of Billie Holliday, a watch stopping.

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Later, at a petrol station, he sees an older man break up a young couple and chase the girl away. Reaching a settlement it becomes clear that everything is not right. The girl has been found at the bottom of a gorge, murdered. Did he see her being chased earlier? And who was her pursuer?

Janisch's unsettling, confusing film is a masterclass in building up atmosphere. Brooding music (including the mandatory Arvo Part piece), clever editing, whisking the viewer away just as the action and tension reaches a climax, constant meddling with the timeline so that the boundary between reality and dream is blurred; all techniques used to produce something as unusual as a David Lynch movie, with none of the dwarves.

The chronology of the film is particularly clever, cutting back and forth with venom so that - like our protagonist - you cannot tell where you'll end up. Particularly good use is made of shots framing female characters, lit contrastingly to the surroundings, in the centre of the frame, emphasing the displacement of living and static objects.

The stilted dialogue between the man and the people he meets helps enforce the view of a Hungary split between the cosmopolitan cities and self-contained rural communities. As the outsider coming into town, some of the requests for help he gets are bizarre, but they do point towards a finale which is as inevitable as the spiralling shape of the small seashell that reappears through the film.

A well-executed tale of paranoia and insularity, which only stumbles at the end.

Reviewed on: 20 Aug 2004
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After The Day Before packshot
Rural life turns out to be anything but idyllic.

Director: Atilla Janisch

Writer: Andras Forgach

Starring: Tibor Gaspar, Bori Derzsi, Sandor Czeczo, Denes Ujlaki, Kati Lazar

Year: 2004

Runtime: 119 minutes

Country: Hungary


EIFF 2004

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