u k k l e
A Mokep production, in association with Fanyar. (International
sales: Mokep, Budapest.) Produced by Csaba Bereczki, Andras
Bohm. Directed, written by Gyorgy Palfi.
With: Ferenc Bandi, Mrs. Jozsef Racz, Jozsef Farkas, Ferenc
Nagy, Mrs. Ferenc Virag, Janos F. Kovacs, Mrs. Janos Nagy, Agi
Margitai, Eszter Onodi, Attila Kaszas, Katalin Balatoni.
old peasant sits on a roadside and starts hiccuping in slow,
rhythmic fashion; insects, animals and workers toil in the hot
landscape; and slowly a weird murder mystery unfolds behind
the serene banalities of village life in "Hukkle."
Almost unclassifiable pic, with no dialogue and the look of
a precisely shot ethnographic/nature documentary, is a true
original -- the freshest pic in Budapest's recent Hungarian
Film Week and a contender for major festival exposure. Beautifully
shot, full of droll humor and at 77 minutes never overstaying
its welcome, this could even get some theatrical exposure in
The diploma film of 27-year-old György Palfi -- a student of
producer-director Sandor Simo, who died late last year -- "Hukkle"
is seen by the writer-director as a feature film, with all the
characters "cast" in their parts in the same way as
regular thesps. (For Hungarian auds, Palfi also includes, in
small roles, pro actors such as Agi Margitai and Eszter Onodi,
to underline his point.) But at the end of the day it's a unique
goulash that keeps teasing the viewer and, late on, springs
a couple of major, loony surprises.
an umbrous opening that sets up the idea of a hidden threat,
pic settles down into the tempo of a leisurely docu, sketching
the slow pace of country life during a hot summer day. Strikingly
shot closeups of etymological life seem to augur some kind of
Magyar "Microcosmos," but there's a feeling of something
going on beneath the surface -- a gentle manipulation of the
viewer that briefly cranks up a notch when the movie appears
to break down during a segue to the village bar.
an elaborate reverse tracking shot through a sewing factory
shows, this isn't some caught-on-the-run docu, either. The soundtrack
is highly worked, as well, bringing a sense of expectation to
such mundane scenes as an old woman preparing a meal for her
family. And then a kitten suddenly dies in the yard of a home.
the 30-minute point, more dark imagery starts to pepper the
film: a police car, a funeral, a bee absent-mindedly crushed
to death between two fingers, a mole killed by a hoe. Fifty
minutes in, the murder mystery reveals its victim, with other
surprises to follow.
almost requires two viewings to reveal its secrets, though Palfi's
two brief f/x coups during the latter half work mostly on the
basis on sheer surprise, given the film's largely placid, seemingly
harmless surface. Performances are utterly natural, and considerable
concentration is needed to work out the "plot."
pic, shot around a village near Lake Balaton, was lensed in
only 30 days, from a script that was a mere 15 pages. "Hukkle"
-- pronounced "hoo-kleh" in Hungarian -- is an invented,
onomatopoeic word, mimicking the rhythmic hiccuping of the old
man that frames the movie.
Camera (color), Gergely Poharnok; editor, Gabor Marinkas;
music, Balazs Barna, Samu Gryllus; sound, Tamas Zanyi. Reviewed
at Hungarian Film Week, Budapest, Feb. 4, 2002. Running time: