15 March 2010

Chameleon / Kaméleon (Krizstina Goda, 2008, Hungary)

Chameleon was Hungary's official submission to the Academy Awards this year. Naturally it didn't get nominated and it wasn't even shortlisted. It's an entertaining movie but it's not the kind of movie that would get a nomination, I don't think, aside from the fact that it's not as good as many of the nominations, though ironically it's stronger than the film that won, but then again so was All About Steve.

The film stars Ervin Nagy and Zsolt Trill as Gabor and Tibi, a couple of guys who grew up in a rural orphanage and promised themselves they'd do whatever it took to live in a big city and own a house, so they could be somebody. Tibi and Gabor work as cleaning men in offices and so forth and use the information they glean from garbage cans and psych files to seduce women and steal all their money while they're waiting at the altar. Gabor falls in love with a dancer whose poster he's seen and drops pursuit of an aging antique store owner to pursue this less attainable woman, the daughter of some wealthy business guy. The dancer has a knee injury that might keep her from being an international star and there's only one surgeon who can save her knee but he's also out of reach so Gabor gets to work at getting the girl by conning the doctor into saving her leg. He cons a number of other people along the way and it turns out that he's not the only one who's other than what he seems.

The film is entertaining but it's not very original and there's something about the ending that seems pat and contrived. I've seen this film referred to as insightful but I wouldn't agree with that, I don't think. It sort of seems to comment on Hungary's emerging economic status the way Slovenka commented on that of Slovenia but it's not quite as good as that film and doesn't have as much to say. I mean, all it seemed to say was a bunch of adolescent male nonsense about the value of money and assorted half-baked claims about women and so forth. The movie also plays with homosexuality in a way that's not common in Eastern European films, as far as I've seen, but it really should have been a little more daring. C

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