The director has created a timelessness in the long, slow shots of this beautiful landscape (where virtually the only signs of modernity are cars and mobile phones) and used minimal dialogue to tell a dark, almost medieval morality tale.
Languid visuals contrast vividly with the brutal central story of a wronged woman forced from her home and determined to avenge herself. She goes back to the place where she was raped as a younger woman, where she has no problem in identifying and despatching the first of her attackers when she meets him again. As he’s a pretty unsympathetic character, it fits right along with our expectations and it’s not hard to feel a sense of moral justification on her behalf. The trouble really begins when she finds the second attacker and he’s not at all the monster she expected. Not only that, but he has a lovely, loving wife and readily befriends Katalin’s – and his own – son.
There’s a fascinating and unsettling moral ambiguity at the heart of this film, that makes it so much more than just a simple revenge flick and shows how a person’s actions can have repercussions that resonate on across generations. It also weaves together themes of tribalism, vendetta, fatalism, superstition and the primitive that lurks beneath a thin layer of civilisation.