This year’s European Union Film Festival showed movies that dealt with both the political and the personal. And here, in The Whiskey Bandit, audiences get a bit of both sides. It’s the adaptation of the real life story of Atilla Ambrus (Bence Szalay). During its opening scenes, he was a border guard when Tranyslvania and Romania was under a dictatorship.
Atilla, an ethnic Hungarian-Romanian, escapes to Hungary, which begins his journey into becoming the titular Whiskey Bandit. A hockey player at the time, he went to ask for money to illegally fast track his Hungarian citizenship. Since the latter didn’t work out while the former is still in place, he decides to rob post offices and banks to repay debts.
This is director Nimrod Antal’s first Hungarian film in almost a decade and a half. That experience shows in the energy within foreign markets’ versions of mainstream cinema. The film requires itself to zoom in on Atilla to show of the character’s physical and mental states. Szalay thus embodies Atilla’s qualities, agile even his quieter scenes.
This mainstream nature also shows through its unavoidable cliches. Like when Atilla’s teammates start to point out the flashy cars he’s been driving, which he can’t otherwise afford even with his professional athlete salary. There’s this thing we see in crime films where the criminals make bad decisions. There’s also the paranoia he starts to exhibit when walls start to close on him.
Atilla’s decisions eventually get a detective (Zoltan Schneider) to outsmart him and his accomplice. Atilla’s mind state is understandable in the two brutal systems he lived in, systems that never gave him a chance. We root for him because the film, through its visual depiction, shows how universally brutal those systems can be, especially to him never belonged to anyone.
- Genre: Action, Crime
- Release Date: 11/16/2018
- Directed by: Nimród Antal
- Starring: Bence Szalay, Zoltan Schneider
- Produced by: Barnabás Hutlassa, Tamás Hutlassa
- Written by: Nimród Antal
- Studio: InterCom
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