Office Christmas Party
Another reminder that allowing your cast to madly improvise instead of actually providing a coherent script with a scintilla of inherent logic often leads to…
An old man hiccups. He shuffles slowly about his morning ritual and then takes his place on a bench outside his cottage, beside the road, still hiccuping. A goose goes about its business. Flies buzz. A cat earns its living. A runaway cart causes a stir in the village. The old man hiccups.
These opening shots announce Gyorgy Palfi's "Hukkle" as a film that will proceed in its own way to its own destination, without regard to convention. The title, a Hungarian word that sounds like a hiccup, is not much help. The film is told almost entirely without dialogue, but is alive to sound; we spend observant, introspective hours in a Hungarian hamlet where nothing much seems to happen -- oh, except that there's a suspicious death.
The murder enters the film like another chapter in the natural history of "Hukkle." We have already seen the violence of nature: a frog to its astonishment suddenly eaten whole; a bee crushed; a cat dead; bees shaken from their hives; the very firmament shaken by what seems to be an earthquake but is only a low-flying jet. These omens are portents of trouble, in a film that finds a new tone: ominous pastoral.
The film is photographed with loving care, and seems at first to be merely a slice of life from a village day; in its attention to the smallest details of life (animal, vegetable, insect), it has been compared to "Microcosmos." But there is a macro level, too, almost too large in scale to be seen, and the ingenuity of the film is in suggesting a larger reality -- a forest it almost cannot see, because it clings so closely to the trees.