Over two and a half portentous hours, Béla Tarr’s swan-song proves as vexingly enigmatic as his fans no doubt hoped, and his detractors might have feared. As an unnamed man and his daughter persevere wearily with joyless routine, an unspoken apocalypse insidiously creeps in to steal away speech, appetite, even light. The crisp cinematography is stunning; the soundtrack is an evocative loop of haunting post-rock; and every utterance is pregnant with precise, unquestionable purpose – but it’s also exhausting. However, were its sequences trimmed, its ascetic tone softened, or its obscurities given clarity, the potency of its metaphor would be diminished, making it a wholly worthwhile endurance.
There are echoes of The Sacrifice (the film with which Andrei Tarkovsky concluded his similarly-feted career) in the sparse despair and unfathomable bleakness, lending added poignancy to the quiet desolation at its core: the end of a pioneering filmmaker’s career, mapped onto the end of the world.
In cinemas 1st June