review for Kontroll on AllMovie

Kontroll (2004)
by Josh Ralske review

Nimród Antal's Kontroll is set in the subterranean nightmare world of Budapest's subway system, where hapless petty bureaucrats (Kontroll's "heroes") harass the public to earn their meager, thankless living. Aside from its unique underworld milieu (the film was shot on location, as a deadpan intro disclaims), there's nothing especially original about Antal's film, but the filmmaker's surfeited movie love shines through in its playful allusions to other films, and in its skillful mix of grunge and slickness. Beyond that, the film offers a potently downbeat metaphor for a decent, honorable man's struggles against the essentially soulless nature of bureaucracy. Sándor Csányi, as Bulcsú, makes an agreeable antihero. Csányi is darkly handsome, but his performance captures an underlying edge of feckless hostility (visually abetted by the physical wounds he incurs over the course of the film) that makes him simultaneously sympathetic and untrustworthy. Gleefully, guiltlessly borrowing a good deal of its sardonic wit and its propulsive visual style, Kontroll is the type of movie that film geeks love to "discover." The Los Angeles-born Antal shows promise with this dexterous debut.