Katalin Varga (2009)

Katalin Varga PosterDirector: Peter Strickland
Running Time: 82 Minutes
Starring: Hilda Péter, Norbert Tankó, László Mátray, Roberto Giacomello, Tibor Pálffy, Melinda Kántor, Sebastian Marina

Cast out by her husband from their village, Katalin Varga (Hilda Péter) takes her young son, Órban (Norbert Tankó), to find his real father. Under the guise of visiting her ill mother, Katalin is actually intent on finding the two men who horrifically abused her, and enacting revenge against them.

The directorial debut of Peter Strickland, what he's crafted is not an easy watch. Sexual abuse is key to the plot, but the focus is not on depicting the horrific act (especially not in a disgustingly leery manner), but rather the sobering aftermath of enduring something so horrific. What occurs next touches on some expected story beats, especially in the revenge sub-genre, but doesn't play out in the traditional manner one would expect. There's no stylising the revenge aspects, the tension is built with a powerful score, and what occurs is treated as horrific. Throughout it all is a reminder that no matter how much time passes, no matter who or where you are, the past is ready to come back and haunt you.

In portraying the eponymous character, the film rests on Hilda Péter's shoulders, and all who watch will be left with a phenomenal portrayal to behold. The pain Katalin has carried from all those years is evident throughout Péter's performance. The key moment which sticks in the mind is a monologue delivered late in the film, a scene which leaves those who view it in awe of how magnificent it is. It's an attention holding moment, which is proof of how the simple sight of somebody talking can be the most engrossing thing. A special mention is deserved for the supporting cast, as Norbert Tankó works well as the son who's brought along for more than just a simple trip, and Tibor Pálffy is absorbing in his scenes.

Katalin Varga is a haunting feature that grips you with ease, and stays with you long after.