Connect with us


Mirage | Review

Saving the Farm: Hajdu Offers Poor Man’s 12 Years A Slave

Szabolcs Hajdu Mirage PosterSet against sprawling plains and a dusty backdrop, Mirage (aka Délibáb) unravels as a contemplative drama with a lofty aspirations of an epic. Keeping to a bare bones approach, the skeleton of the narrative exhibits a careful precision, preferring to reserve the details in favor for the audience members connecting the dots themselves. Exploring further previous themes of alienation and oppression, Szabolcs Hajdu, creates a careful–albeit at times disconnected–study of a man who begins as and remains an enigma.

A stranger (Isaach De Bankolé) whose name is not revealed until the latter part of the film finds himself in the hands of a gang, primarily made of farmers, geese herders–but not the kind seen in pastoral portraits but rather ones that wield guns freely. His history is not known and what little of his background only admitted does little to augment the story. He is a man suppressed by his overseers yet there seems to be an odd acceptance if not harmony between the two. He is fed, housed, and the cigarettes are complimentary. However, as the injustices become more acute and Cisco (Razvan Vasilescu) the leader becomes more violent, our stranger, Francis, begins to take steps towards a fight for freedom.

The film is sprawling piece: moments without dialogue run long and there is a lack of traditional action aside from the explosive third act. It concentrates on atmosphere in lieu of traditional story and without much information to anchor the audience, it dips precariously into a film that offers little return. It does not overtly burden itself in maintaining tension; as soon as there is rising action, the film chooses to fade out as if to say “not yet”.

Much like Steve McQueen’s film, though with a comparably pitiful budget, Hajdu seems to have embraced the subject matter at hand and run the opposite way. The film feels rather economic in that every scene seems to embody a sense of deliberation. Though, admittedly, it strains at times, struggling to lift itself up from its bootstraps in the attempt to fit into a mold of a larger and more competent piece. But despite its missteps, Hajdu creates a cogent tableau of isolation, of a man caught between a rock and hard place, like a stick of dynamite ready to explode. What 12 Years A Slave did for the slave saga, Mirage accomplishes for the arthouse crowd.


Click to comment

More in Reviews

To Top