EmptyTaormina Film Fest, Italy
TAORMINA, Italy -- Bela Paczolay's first feature, winner of the Best Debut Film at this year's Hungarian Film Week, may tread well-beaten paths in its story about three generations of impossible men on a 24-hour road trip, but it does so with such sincerity and a wonderful cast that it is a joy to watch. "The Adventurers" is also the kind of light-hearted European comedy loved by audiences Stateside and beyond although with a no-name cast exposure is unlikely beyond festival dates.
Geza (Peter Rudolf), a struggling, middle-aged trumpet player living in his car after being kicked out by his fourth wife, convinces his son Andris (Milan Schruff) to accompany him on a drive from Budapest to his hometown in Transylvania, Romania, where Grandpa (Peter Humann) says he needs help with an emergency. The crisis is that philandering Grandpa is sick of his wife's fits of jealousy and has decided to move in with Geza.
He's packed his countless bags, many of them with things like cheap straw hats that he intends to sell on the streets of Budapest to earn his keep, and is ready to go. Unable to admit he's homeless, Geza begrudgingly agrees to take Grandpa to Hungary, secretly hoping they can all stay with Andris and his girlfriend. Only on the trip back it becomes clear that Andris' own relationship is on the skids because of his gambling addiction.
Along the way the men drink, squabble, have car troubles and run-ins with the police, help a lady in distress (Judit Pogany), find themselves with a cadaver on their hands and are befriended by a Gypsy patriarch (Lajos Kovacs). Throughout it all, Grandpa and Andris seem to revel in the absurdity of their situation, unexpectedly making Geza the only voice of reason among the bungling trio.
What sounds like an overload of folkloristic stereotypes plays with effortless charm thanks largely to the three leads, who won a collective Best Performance Award at the 2008 Transylvania Film Festival. Haumann and Rudolf are spot-on as irresistible troublemakers incapable of being responsible while Schruff holds his own as a young man coming to terms with his emotional legacy.
Gyula Pados' captures the Romanian countryside, from peasant villages to industrial wastelands, with beautiful understatement and a rendition of the haunting "Le vent nous portera" by popular local band Kistehen (who go by Little Cow in English) add further gentle touches to a winsome film that should open many doors for director Paczolay.
Production company: Unio Film.
Cast: Peter Haumann, Peter Rudolf, Milan Schruff, Agi Banfalvy, Judit Pogany, Mari Csomos, Tibor Gaspar, Lajos Kovacs.
Director: Bela Paczolay.
Screenwriters: Peterfy Gergely.
Producers: Istvan Bodzsar, Agi Pataki.
Director of photography: Gyula Pados.
Production designer: Monika Esztan.
Music: Laszlo Kollar-Klemencz, the Kistehen (Little Cow) band.
Costume designer: Janos Breckl.
Editor: Istvan Kiraly.
No rating, 110 minutes.