Impressions of … The Man From London (Belà Tarr)

don’t know why it took me so long to sit down and watch this, the Turin Horse has come and gone since this came out, maybe I knew it wasn’t sensational and let it slip down the queue, but Bela Tarr and film noir are a good fit as well as a good rhyme

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the opening music was underwhelming, an imitation of strings, and the overheard dialogue was superfluous, blatant – and so blatantly recorded later – it rendered a mysterious situation banal, not a good start (disconcerting to hear Michael Lonsdale’s voice but see someone less charismatic stepping out from behind the bar, a consequence of casting faces?)

Tilda Swinton … her performance would’ve been great, in a more dramatic film – despite the stilted french

the film got interesting when Maloin stopped on his way home to watch his daughter, she was the one good thing in his life, idealized, protected, you began to think he would do anything for her, you waited for that to happen, but in the end he only went as far as buying her a fur coat, and ruining her reputation in the local job market, before handing in the ‘found’ money – I understood this decision, the burden of suspicion was too much for him, but I was hoping the burden would make him crack in another way, it felt anti-climatic, especially as we were not allowed to witness the second killing in the film

Man from London
nice sequence in Maloin’s tower as Maloin watches the detective and waits for him to settle on him as a suspect, this is where the long takes came into their own, no respite from the tension, whereas in a later sequence the camera fixes on the face of the criminal’s wife as she learns of his misdeeds, she cries, but does not break the inspector’s monologue, nice technique, but you can’t make us care about someone just by showing their face for five minutes and watching them cry, Belà, not when we want to know about someone else, not when the story is elsewhere …

(or did the Simenon novel visit all these characters?)

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