Tuesday, May 29, 2012
Stylistically grueling, The Turin Horse is a creeping, existential nightmare with even its horrors drained of thrill. It's about the slow depletion of every single resource for this working class family until the black takes over and the credits roll. I counted 31 shots—30 if the bit where the lamp goes out is one continuous shot—and they're typically captivating, particularly the rugged opening trifecta. The first two days are a riveting exploration of daily life for this taxi-driver and his daughter, from getting dressed in the morning to eating a one-potato dinner at night. Then the monotony sets in. The fourth day is hell. And it doesn't end. Everything just keeps getting worse.
It's a structural beauty, and every single outdoor shot is mesmerizing, but I find The Turin Horse the least rich of the Tarr films I've seen (which doesn't yet include Satantango). Now that I think about it, Damnation, Werckmeister Harmonies, and The Man from London are each about descent, quite literally in the last one, a noir that opens in a watch tower before our protagonist guard climbs the ladder down into the moral morass. But thanks to its unflappable existentialism, The Turin Horse isn't as dynamic as the others. Even the fall in Werckmeister has to do with the boy trying and failing to understand his world. The taxi-driver in Turin is just Job without the dark comedy. Life's a bitch, and then you die. What a way to go.
Posted by Brandon Nowalk at 3:15 AM