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Taxidermia
UKScreen Rating:

Taxidermia – Review

WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

Goodness, where to start…
Every now and then, a film comes along that’s so surreal as to be almost indescribable.
This is one of those films – so it’s not quite indescribable, but it’s not far off.
We start in the post-war Hungarian winter wilderness, where put-upon soldier Morosgoványi (Czene) is, in effect, a slave to the wealthy, in a remote country house. His only relaxation comes in attempted to satiate his need to be loved, by peeping on the women of the house bathing and – to put it as mildly as I can – pleasuring himself in some rather unsavoury ways. This decidedly unpleasant period of his life comes to an end at around the same time that a baby is born in the household.
Next we jump ahead a few years and follow this baby. Kálmán (Trócsányi) is now and adult and one of Hungary’s foremost professional speed eaters, appearing onstage with some of the fattest men in the Eastern Bloc, shovelling as much soup, caviar and assorted animal left-overs into their huge bellies, before spewing it all out again. Delightfully, Kálmán falls in love with a lady speed-eating champion and together, they too have a baby.
The final segment of the film follows this baby, Lajoska (Bischoff), who’s grown up to be the taxidermist of the title. We witness his attempt to run his carcass preservation business as he struggles to look after his ageing Mr Creosote (Monty Python’s Meaning of Life) look-alike father and his competition fat-cats.

WHAT’S IT LIKE?

As comedies go, they don’t get much darker than this.
During the first segment, there will be occasions when the men in the audience will jump out of their seats, yelping with empathetic pain, at the plight of the literally hen-pecked orderly and his hen-pecked pecker.
This should start to give you an idea. The next segment is filled with overeating and vomiting, and the final section has some of the most disturbing imagery you’ll have had the guilty pleasure of watching on the big screen.
The plot is confused and the characters are almost universally flawed and unsympathetic, but none of this is the point. As the food is for the speed eaters, this film is a feast for our eyes and ears, constantly shovelling sometimes frightening and always shocking images into our brains, with inescapable cheekiness.
I’m sure an understanding of Hungarian history will add another level of understanding to this film, but a lack of the political background won’t change the fact that this is undoubtedly a brave and dangerous film that will bring you close to levels of sickness experienced by the characters, but will make you feel good about it.
And the more uneasy you want to feel, the film continues to deliver, with the denouement being every bit as disturbing as the hour and a half that precedes it.
It’s visually fascinating and emotionally draining, but to ensure that this is the only way it drains you, don’t even think about eating anything before going to see this film.

opens 13th July 2007

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