Gyorgy Kristóf’s Out proves that unemployment and fear of foreign workers aren’t limited to the more affluent nations of Europe in this sweet story about a factory worker struggling to get by.
Ágoston (Terhes) begins as one of many workers in a moving opening shot that tracks the stoic disappointment of the men and women as they face redundancy. Kristóf quickly narrows his focus to follow Ágoston on his strange journey as he moves from Slovakia to Latvia in search of work. It’s an odd irony to see him face complaints from Eastern European bosses about foreign workers taking jobs and earning unmerited sympathy considering the arguments we’ve seen in Britain in recent years but it reminds you that the Eurozone crisis is not limited to one corner of the continent.
Kristóf wisely opts not to pump the tragedy too hard, making Ágoston’s struggles significant but surmountable. Instead his search for work becomes a little quirky, and aimless as a result. He bribes an employment agency boss who claims the money is to “help protect the animals”, then befriends a woman on the beach who carries a stuffed squirrel everywhere she goes. Later he gets wasted with a fisherman and his plastic surgery grotesque of a wife, strange selfie-centric narcissism and all.
These diversions are certainly entertaining, but don’t really cohere into anything resembling a narrative. The only thing maintaining the audience’s attention is Terhes’ tender, forlorn performance as he beats a track across Europe.
Pohárnok’s photography deserves great praise for capturing the industrialised skeleton of Eastern Europe and evoking a lost corner of the continent. Screenwriters Kristóf, Horváth and Papp seem to be reaching for the same suggestion of a ragged, bizarre, helpless people, but their intentions are lost in a vague ramble of plot.
CAST: Judit Bárdos, Attila Bocsárszky, Viktor Nemets, Sándor Terhes
WRITERS: Eszter Horváth, György Kristóf, Gábor Papp
DIRECTOR: György Kristóf
SYNOPSIS: After losing his lifelong job in a power plant of small Slovak village Agoston takes the shady but alluring opportunity to work as a welder in a shipyard in Latvia. The journey in hopes of a new job in reality turns into a accelerating whirlwind of absurd events of short encounters.