Staggeringly beautiful from an aesthetic perspective, the film manages to captivate viewers despite its minimalist plot and dialogues...
by Fabien Lemercier
At 33, he is the youngest director in competition this year at the Cannes Film Festival, but Hungarian filmmaker Kornél Mundruczó is certainly not the least talented. Delta, his third feature, proudly confirms his highly personal style and the enormous potential of this emerging young star.
Staggeringly beautiful from an aesthetic perspective, the film manages to captivate viewers despite its minimalist plot and dialogues. This impressive feat is achieved thanks to the charisma of the two leading actors (Orsi Toth and new-found actor Lajko Felix, a famous violinist and composer of Delta’s excellent score) and a keen sense of directorial style.
An ode to the beauty of wild nature filmed in the Danube Delta in Romania, the feature – co-written by the director and Yvette Biro – is freely adapted from Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Euripides’ Electra. Returning to his native village after a long absence, a nameless man builds a house on stilts in the middle of nowhere, aided by his half-sister whom he has just met and ostracised by his mother and stepfather.
Amidst the magnificent landscapes, the brother and sister watch one another, discover one another and end up falling in love. But in Mundruczó’s world, unconventional happiness is never to society’s taste and this creates dramatic tension.
"Some people think they’ve got the right to persecute those who don’t bow to convention", said the filmmaker. "I’m more inclined to accept Rousseau’s idea that man is naturally good in a primitive state and is then corrupted by society".
The director conveys this philosophy through a lyrical style reminiscent of the work of Terence Malick, a masterful approach full of subtle atmospheres and understated emotions, including during an awful and lengthy rape scene, which is glimpsed from afar.
Delta was originally hampered mid-shoot by the death of the lead actor Lajos Bertok and production had to start over again from scratch. The finished work is as fascinating and dazzling as it is uncompromising, in particular in its brutal ending, which is as shocking as the blade that falls.
Produced by Proton Cinema, German company Essential Filmproduktion and Hungary’s Filmpartners, Delta received backing from the Hungarian Culture Ministry, the Hungarian Film Foundation, ZDF, Mitteldeutsche Medienforderung, MedienBoard, TV2 Hungary and Budapest Film.
The feature is being sold internationally by French-based The Coproduction Office.