Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

"Szöcs has good ideas for the look and framing of the film but a feel for the characters is missing." | Photo: Courtesy of Venice Biennale College

Petra Szöcs' directorial debut - one of three that has emerged this year from the Biennale College system, that mentors low-budget projects through production in less than a year - feels stretched even at 76 minutes.

A character study of albino teenager Kató (Csengelle Nagy), who lives in an orphanage in the Romanian town of Deva, the film begins with what appears to be, from the director's statement, a snapshot of documentary footage of the three-year-old girl who inspired her story. "I was born in a cemetery," she notes but like its central character and much else in the film, the idea remains an opaque enigma to the last.

Copy picture

The story, such as there is one, concerns the arrival of a young volunteer Bogi (Boglárka Komán), who takes a two-month placement at the orphanage, the children inevitably drawn to the 'new' despite the caring attention of their established guardian Ana (Fatma Mohamed). Kató is the rebellious sort, her physical differences lending her a certain cache with the mostly younger children.

Szöcs and her cinematographer Zoltán Dévényi have an attractive neo-realist style of shooting and garner impressively naturalistic performances from the young supporting cast. They also generate a good sense of place in the town itself and the clash between teh rural and the industrial. But while the lens frequently scrutinises Kató, Szöcs never offers us a look at what lies beneath, making it hard to know what she intends us to take away from the film. While Kató has a certain infatuation for Ana, the scenes between the two remain flat because we have an insufficient window into either woman's emotions for tension, sexual, dangerous or otherwise, to be developed.

Although shot in a documentary style, you can't help feeling by the end that a straightforward factual film would have been preferable and offered a greater insight both into the life and work of an orphanage and of the emotional experiences of those who live there. Szöcs has good ideas for the look and framing of the film but a feel for the characters' inner lives is missing.

The film is available to watch online at Festival Scope's Sala Web until September 19.

Reviewed on: 02 Sep 2018
Share this with others on...
Character study of a teenager who lives in an orphanage.

Director: Petra Szöcs

Writer: Gergö Nagy V., Petra Szöcs

Starring: Boglárka Komán, Fatma Mohamed, Csengelle Nagy, Boglárka Komán, Fatma Mohamed, Csengelle Nagy

Year: 2018

Runtime: 76 minutes

Country: Hungary

Search database: