Written by Chris Reynolds
Delta is a Hungarian film which tells the story of Mihail (FĂ©lix LajkĂł), a man returning to his home village having made his fortune, with a dream of building his own house on the delta. He immediately comes into conflict with both his motherâ€™s new husband, and the rest of the villagers, who dislike his success and his over-close relationship with his sister Fauna (Orsolya TĂłth).
Deltas are networks of waterways at the mouth of a river, and like a delta, this film is sluggish, with no clear direction. Despite pleasant and well done cinematography, that captures both the starkness and the beauty of the Hungarian delta where the film is set, the shots linger for far too long a time on flowing water and the flora of the delta, and not enough on the story. The film seems to stretch on and on, an initial feeling of goodwill towards the film eventually becomes increasingly turgid, as the film fails to develop the plot or the characters, and the film sinks into a sediment of overindulgent direction.
The film played host to a real life tragedy, when lead actor Lajos BertĂłk died from a sudden heart attack partway through filming, meaning that the film had to be reshot with FĂ©lix LajkĂł taking the part of Mihail in his place. Quite possibly the death of the lead and a reshoot could have caused some of these problems.
The film eventually takes a turn into more taboo territory, but the film has done nothing to create a connection with any of the characters, and the emotionally distant direction which prefers to concentrate on the natural world than the human characters, leads to a lack of sympathy with Mihail and Fauna as they attempt to deal with the hostility of the villagers towards them. The acting, while never unconvincing, is particularly stoic, with characters rarely evincing much emotion, which adds to the distancing effect, and the film ends strangely and abruptly, which left me feeling frustrated that the plot had been resolved so quickly and without any satisfying resolution.
The themes of manâ€™s attempts to tame nature have been done much better in many other films, notably Deliverance which covers much of the same ground.
Unless you are particularly interested in Hungarian art films, stay well away.
Last edited: 17th August 2009
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