Nearly wordless, Hukkle (2002) is one of the rare modern films that can be viewed on mute until the very last scene with little lost. The first film of Hungarian director György Pálfi (whose most popular offering so far has been Taxidermia ), Hukkle is a truly filmic story. The supremely intelligent husband of my art history professor spoke of a great film as being one which could not be told in writing, and by this criteria Hukkle is a great film.
The film follows a small, tightly-knit Hungarian town through a single day, beginning with an old man who has the hiccups (the titular “hukkle”) and moving on to milk maids, moles, horny young men, horny old pigs, matrons and more. Some of them go about their daily lives relatively peacefully, and others experience calm but strange happenings. A cat is poisoned and dies. An old woman mixes bottles of mysterious liquids and then dispenses them around town. An old man dies and a mailman delivers a package to the widow upon his death. There is an unsolved murder of a fisherman, whose body we see at the bottom of a pond. Throughout all of this, life goes on in the village, as horses clop by and mothers cook dinner.
The film has a slow, hypnotic quality, that makes for both frustrating and rewarding viewing. The ‘mystery’ at play here is revealed, somewhat, near the end of the film, but Hukkle is the exact opposite of a traditional murder mystery. The entire film could be viewed without suspecting anything is really wrong. Overall, Hukkle is a quirky, eerie, beautifully shot story for film goers with a good eye and long attention span.
Britta R. Moline 11/5/11