The spectre of Bela Tarr shadows this slow burning Hungarian tragedy, written and directed by actor/director Kornel Mundruczo (Johanna, Joan of Arc of the Night Bus). Delta’s taciturn protagonist is an unnamed and mysteriously wealthy young man (musician Felix Lajko) who returns after a long absence to his native village in the Danube delta, where he and his half-sister (Orsi Toth) decide to build a house. The transgressive relationship of the siblings provokes a vengeful reaction amongst the locals.
Photographed by cinematographer Matayas Erdely in contemplative and often silent takes, Delta is a film of considerable, if self-conscious, visual beauty, which seeks to contrast the richness and resilience of nature with the bigotry and transience of humanity. Individual sequences impress – for example the high-angle shots of the boats travelling in convoy to a funeral; plus the complex sound mix and the string based score (provided by Lajko) are integral in establishing the atmosphere of foreboding. The bare bones story though, which treats the characters as archetypes, suffers from dramatic predictability: one sight of the physically unprepossessing and leering villagers and you know that a terrible punishment will eventually be meted out to the lovers.
Filmhouse, Edinburgh from Thu 4-Sun 7 Jun.