18 July 2008


It's hard to know what to make of this movie, which takes place entirely underground, in Budapest's subway system. The protagonists are the system's ticket checkers, who have the unenviable job of demanding passengers show their tickets or passes and levying a fine if proof of payment is not forthcoming.

The ticket checkers work in teams, and the film follows a team that is on probation--for newness, presumably, but it may also be for lameness (the team includes a narcoleptic).

The atmosphere underground at times seems disarmingly normal and other times is flatly sinister--there's a killer loose: a self-styled grim reaper who shoves random passengers into the path of oncoming trains and disappears. And manages to do this without being captured by the ubiquitous security cameras.

Our hero is a young man who seems clearly overqualified for his role--and indeed, we find out that he had been a big success in the above-surface world but chucked it all. We watch the movie because we want this directionless fellow to find his direction: when he does, the movie takes off.

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