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flick pick | Kontroll 2003
Directed by: Nimród Antal
Written by: Jim Adler, Nimród Antal
Starring: Sándor Csányi, Zoltán Mucsi, Csaba Pindroch, Sándor Badár, Zsolt Nagy
Language: Hungarian [with English subtitles]
Look for it at the video store under: foreign [Hungary], thriller, comedy
Watch it when you’re in the mood for something:  artsy-fartsy, darkly comic, hip
The critic says: / 5 the rating system explained
Fun factor: /5 

Plot synopsis In the underground world of a fictional Hungarian Metro system (a strange little intro assures us that the Metro in Kontroll is not the same as the real Budapest subway, and that the world depicted is symbolic), riders use the trains on the honor system, jumping on and off without having to swipe their tickets. To keep riders honest, the system employs teams of ticket inspectors, who conduct random ticket checks and issue fines as necessary, much to the annoyance of the many folks who choose to abuse the system. The inspectors are a motley, unkempt lot existing at the fringes of society, and in most people's eyes, they're barely a step above vagrants. Their demands to see tickets are generally met with hostility; they face contempt, ridicule and even physical assault on a daily basis. Bulcsú leads one of these ticket control crews; once a successful professional in the world above, he's since renounced yuppie comfort for a life spent entirely in the subway, patrolling trains during work hours, engaging in dangerous games with rival inspectors in the evenings, and sleeping on the cold, filthy train platform each night. It's not for everyone, but the monotony of a 24-7 life in darkness suits Bulcsú, who seems to want nothing more than to disappear completely from the real world. Things get more complicated, however, once Metro authorities catch wind of a mysterious killer who's been pushing people to their deaths onto the subway tracks. Meanwhile, Bulcsú finds himself falling in love -- with a beautiful young woman who rides the subway without buying a ticket, dressed (oddly enough) in a teddy bear suit.

Review Maybe it's just that I'm such a terrible driver, but I've always been a big, big fan of subways. (Back in college, I even did a final project for a photo class focused on people riding the T, and spent weeks riding back and forth on Boston's subway lines, surreptitiously snapping photos of unsuspecting riders.) Sharing the subway with a throng of fellow riders, you get a weird sense of being part of the bigger world, even as the crush of the crowd and the enclosed space of the subway tunnel gives you the illusion of being anonymously snug, and safe, and separate from real-life concerns. It's a feeling that Kontroll perfectly captures as it follows Bulcsú and his crew; the subterranean setting (beautifully lit and very stylishly shot) in Antal's film feels both familiar and completely otherworldly all at the same time. Part action-thriller, part social satire, with a surprising shot of quirky romance and goofy comedy thrown in for good measure, Kontroll is a hard movie to define; it's about as un-Hollywood a movie as one could possibly imagine, and its strangeness and non-linearity can be unsettling. For those looking for something beyond the standard movie fare, however, Kontroll offers the perfect ticket. Descend into the surreality of its dark, twisted tunnels, and enjoy the ride. —reviewed by Yee-Fan Sun

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