Film Scouts Diaries

2008 Karlovy Vary Film Festival Diaries
Diary #7: Actors, still, first and foremost

by Henri Béhar

Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic, July 11, 2008 – On screen, Hungarian actor Zsolt Anger looks massive. With his shaved head and goatee, he also looks dour and menacing. No wonder: in Attila Gigor's The Investigator (Hungary-Sweden-Ireland, international premiere, in competition), he plays Tibor, a pathologist cum mortician (read: the epitome of a loner) whose mother is dying of cancer. The cure that might save her can only be found in Sweden. But that requires the kind of money Tibor doesn't have. A mysterious one-eyed man nicknamed Cyclops shows up and offers to give him the money if Tibor agrees to kill someone. Which Tibor does. But when the job is done, he finds out there is more to it than meets the eye, were it that of a Cyclops. Efficiently directed, that crime slash drama slash thriller opus is elevated by Anger's strong performance.

As frail as Zsolt Anger is massive, but equally impressive in Nan Triveni Achnas's The Photograph (Indonesia-France-Netherlands-Switzerland-Sweden, European premiere, in competition), Asian actor Kay Tong Lim plays an ageing photographer who for some reason or other accepts to rent his attic to a young prostitute slash karaoke singer trying to escape from her pimp. She also has a sick mother and a little daughter in the country that she never sees; he has "a tragic, dark past". Did I mention he, too, is dying?

The story line is a bit of a cliché – the master passing his craft (and the baton) to the unexpected disciple – but watch what Mr. Lim does on screen. From beginning to end, the man moves practically in slow motion – which, any dancer or circus performer will tell you, is incredibly difficult and requires tremendous physical discipline. Particularly if you try to make it invisible and, as Mr Lim does, succeed.

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