Sunset (László Nemes, 2018)
Sunset deceitfully looks like an Merchant Ivory production with its luscious costume designs and opulent art direction, but if Son of Saul was not an Oscar-bait film about the Holocaust, this is definitely not a Europudding production. Once you scratch the surface, instead of finding an impressionist artwork, like a Seurat one that exalts a leisured upper class, you get a sombre Goya from his Black Paintings era.
For his second feature, László Nemes immerses us again into a world of horror — this time with a movie set before World War I when hell preceded an even worse hell. In a search for her missing brother, our protagonist Irisz (Juli Jakab) gets lost in a labyrinthine Budapest, full of turmoil and dark passageways, and finds herself in a dispute between a sinister businessman, a debauched royalty, and a group of anarchists. László Nemes confuses the audience with an even more confusing narrative where characters have unclear motives and conspiracies get more and more complicated every minute. The camera flows ceaselessly around Irisz in long-take sequences that increase its disorienting effect. It’s not that the camera is following Irisz; it’s just that the camera is as lost as her.
Sunset is an ambitious production that succeeds on many levels and confirms that Son of Saul was no fluke.
“The horror of the world hides beneath these infinitely pretty things.”
Juli Jakab is intense as the guide for this tour to hell, but Evelin Dobos has the difficult task to play a character who’s a friend first, then a rival, an ally later, and finally a victim in the course of two hours and a half.
Györgyi Szakács was not overwhelmed by the pressure of working in a movie that’s takes place in high-class fashion shop, and exceeds expectations with some costumes and hats that, darling, are to-die-for.
Directed by László Nemes | 2018 | Hungary, France
Main cast: Juli Jakab, Evelin Dobos, Vlad Ivanov, Susanne Wuest, Levente Molnár, Judit Bárdos, Julia Jakubowska, Urs Rechn