CATEGORIES Comedy, Drama, Foreign Language, Horror, Tribeca, Theatrical Reviews, Cinematical Indie, Philadelphia Film Festival, Reviews, Tribeca Film Festival, Cinematical
I can think of a lot of adjectives that could adequately describe Gyorgy Palfi's Taxidermia: absurd, ugly, disgusting, surreal, confusing, arcane, difficult, ponderous, and (intermittently) fascinating. I've no problem admitting that I just didn't "get it," which doesn't mean that I'll blindly dismiss the thing and call it a rotten movie -- nor can I find much praise for the film, either. It's a truly "out there" experience, I'll give the movie that, but unless you've got a pretty strong affection for Hungarian films that deal with sexual deviance, non-stop vomiting, ridiculous obesity and "creative" taxidermy I can't imagine you'd bother with the whole film.
Entirely lacking in what you'd call a "traditional narrative structure," Taxidermia is actually sort of an anthology, and the only link between the three stories is the fact that we're dealing with three generations of the same family. (If there's any connective tissue between the miniature trilogy, feel free to let me know what it might be.) I "get" that all three sections deal with the act of expelling things from one's body -- be it fluid, food or vital organ -- but beyond that I'm stuck firmly in head-scratching country. At least Palfi knows how to frame a stylish shot when he needs one ... which is often.
Story one deals with a Hungarian soldier who is also a sexual deviant who knows how to shoot flames from his penis. He fantasizes about intercourse with all sorts of ... stuff, finally gets down and dirty with a gutted pig's carcass, and meets a rather untimely demise -- but not before he sires the main character from story number two.
This one deals with a powerfully large guy who's desperate to climb atop the Hungarian "speed eating" charts, and he'll stop at nothing to jam as much food into his gullet as possible. This story also boasts the most onscreen vomiting since the infamous scene from Monty Python's The Meaning of Life -- although that scene was amusing while these are just ... extra pukey. Our overweight hero lands as a wife the Female Speed Eating Champion, and together they create our main character in story number three.
The final chapter is about a very skinny taxidermist and his cartoonishly obese father, who sits in a chair, eating still-wrapped candy bars, perpetually bellowing and hungry for house cats. And if you've made it this far into Taxidermia without falling asleep or switching the film off in favor of something that doesn't focus so much on every bodily fluid known to man, then you can probably tell where chapter three is headed. Let's just say it involves the rarely-used phrase "mega-disembowelization," and then let's just keep on walking.
I freely admit that this sort of "highly-stylized, plot-optional, kinda looks like a Nine Inch Nails video" approach isn't always my precise cup of tea -- but there's also something grimly fascinating about these three pieces. (Well, they're fascinating in isolated dribs and drabs, anyway.) What the stories "mean" and how they connect is entirely up to the individual viewer, and speaking as only one individual, I'm fairly stumped and, more importantly, not all that interested in digging any deeper. One is tempted to dismiss this experimental piece as a gooey bowl of pretentious arthouse weirdness, but there's no denying that, at least on a purely visual scale, the thing's got some power behind it. I still have next to no freaking idea what I just sat through, but (despite the surreal ugliness of the thing) I can't say I actually regret watching it.