The Man from London (Béla Tarr, 2007)

Although replete with gorgeous mise-en-scene characteristics of his later works, The Man from London falls frustratingly short to Tarr’s previous works. Tarr’s usual late bag of tricks — richly-textured, gorgeous long takes, Mihaly Vig’s cyclic music (which is rather annoying this time compared to his previous transcendental scores), along with the dance-in-a-bar, unblinking, silent characters staring into nothingness for 30 seconds or more — feels this time way too excessively self-indulgent in the face of the noir-like plot.

Perhaps it’s the lack of emotion-driven issues and “existentialist” themes (usually present in Tarr’s works) that makes the beautifully-conjured melancholia and the story rather incompatible. There were moments of great beauty, sure, but overall, I would rate even his earlier works e.g. Karhozat, Almanac of Fall, Prefab People, even the short in Visions of Europe higher than this one. Just hoping it’s not a sign of a further autumnal decline.

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