Directors’ Showcase / International premiere

Off Hollywood

  • Szabolcs Hajdu /
  • Hungary /
  • 2007 /
  • 76 mins

Orsolya TörökIllyés, Domokos Szabó, László Katona, Szabolcs Thuróczy, Zoltán Seress, Lehel Kovács / Fiction / Hungarian

Filmmaking and insanity become a shot/reverse shot pattern.

?Last at EIFF in 2006 with White Palms, Szabolcs Hadju here pursues a similar theme – both pieces explore the psychological cost of pursuing “pure” private goals in a commercial, and often mercenary, public context. Off Hollywood opens with a series of elegant tracking shots as a young filmmaker, Adél Bódi (Orsolya Török-Illyés), jogs through the morning light on the day of her new film’s premiere. The first scenes are comic – a catastrophic interview between Bódi and a jealous radio interviewer; a wonderfully deadpan scene in which a barfly challenges a drunken actor to laugh and cry on demand; and a cutting exchange when Bódi’s husband doesn’t bother turning off his internet porn when she comes in. (“I can’t close it, it’s some kind of virus!” he pleads.) Just when it seems that the film will offer nothing but comic vignettes, however, Hajdu shifts gears entirely. At the party after the premiere, Bódi experiences painful aural hallucinations. Deranged, she sprints madly into the night, careening through the darkened streets – a perverse echo of her morning jog. This psychotic episode is a pivot on which the film tilts from comedy into something much darker. The narrative remains elliptical, offering hints rather than clear explanations. Has the star of Bódi’s film tried to drug its producer, in order to steal money – and Bódi unwittingly drunk the spiked cocktail? Or have her producer’s commercial aspirations, and the stress of facing public expectations about her filmmaking, simply driven her mad? As the film moves into darkly chaotic territory, the comedy withers, leaving Bódi with nothing but a bitter sense of wreckage. Through this portrait of mental collapse, Hajdu develops a biting critique of the tension between artistic impulse and commercial necessity. Off Hollywood is a personal and thoroughly punk statement from one of Hungary’s brightest young filmmakers.

2008 Archive

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