February 15, 2006
By EDDIE COCKRELL
A Megafilm production. Produced by Gabor Kalomista. Directed, written by Peter Timar.
With: Gabi Szabo, Tibor Gaspar, Zsolt Laszlo.
Prolific and head-strong, Magyar iconoclast Peter Timar ("Dollybirds") is known for his out-there ideas, and "The Prince's Respite," in which a famous model is caught in a war between good and evil that literally wrinkles time, is further out than most. Ingenious central conceit will hold fest and local multiplexmultiplex auds, though threadbare production values will prevent pic from traveling far.
After a protracted opening during which Alida (Gabi Szabo) appears on a TV show to admit past indiscretions, she is shot by a mugger and sent to hell's waiting room. Three old crones give way to evil prince Astaroth (Tibor Gaspar, "After the Day Before"), who gives Alida one minute on Earth to find someone to die in her stead.
What that means is time keeps repeating itself in increments of 60 seconds. Pic is at its best when Timar takes his time establishing this genuinely interesting central conceit.
Along with auds, Alida learns gradually, through trial and error, that she should get as far as she can within the allotted timeframe, wait for reality to roll back, and continue to take baby steps toward her goal.
When Astaroth ups the ante by sending three hooded spearmen on horseback after her, it's up to white-clad otherworldly good guy Thor (Zsolt Laszlo) to get her out of the complex jam. Far less successful is this entire otherworldly framework; Gaspar is OK as Astaroth, but Laszlo is made to swagger around like a lame hipster.
Tech credits are adequate on an obvious budget; Timar's simple, jump-cut edits during the time-hopping sequences are mini-courses in the manipulation of time and space. "Princely Respite" is the English-language title on print caught.
Camera (color), Sandor Csukas; editor, Timar; music, Karoly Cserepes; production designer, Bea Peto; sound, Tamas Markus. Reviewed at Hungarian Film Week (competing), Budapest, Feb. 3, 2006. Running time: 92 MIN.