The Man From London (12A)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner11/12/2008

Two out of Five stars
Running time: 135 mins

Despite its conventional-sounding plot, this is strictly for hardcore arthouse fans and the film's aesthetic rewards don't really justify its lengthy running time.

What's it all about?
Miroslav Krobot stars as Maolin, a harbourmaster in a coastal French town who witnesses a murder when a transaction between two men ends with one of them being pushed into the sea. Approaching the scene of the crime, Maolin fishes a briefcase out of the water with a boathook and is astonished to discover that it's full of British money.

While deciding what to do with his new-found fortune, Maolin meets Inspector Morrison (Istvan Lenart), who offers Maolin a reward if he finds the money. Meanwhile, Maolin has his hands full dealing with the demands of his wife Camelia (Tilda Swinton) and is unhappy that his daughter Henriette (Erika Bok) has taken a job washing floors (in skimpy clothes) in a local butcher's shop.

The Good
The film is beautifully shot, with gorgeous black and white photography courtesy of Fred Kelemen that creates an impressively noir-ish atmosphere; the shots of the foggy harbour are especially good. The performances are good too, though it's a mystery as to what Tilda Swinton is doing here, as her character has very little to do beyond nagging Maolin and shouting.

The Bad
Unfortunately, despite its conventional-sounding plot, The Man From London will probably only appeal to hardcore arthouse fans, thanks to Hungarian director Bela Tarr's uncompromising directorial style. This includes his signature lengthy takes, where you ending up staring at a closed door for two minutes, with nothing on the soundtrack or watching a character take a very long walk.

In addition, despite being in both English and subtitled French, the film has been dubbed from its original Hungarian, so you get Edward Fox's distinctive voice coming out of Istvan Lenart's mouth; this is at best distracting and at worst irritating, especially as the dubbing job is quite bad.

Worth seeing?
Fans of Bela Tarr's previous films won't be disappointed, but The Man From London is only likely to appeal to hardcore arthouse fans.

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Content updated: 17/07/2018 07:10

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