Grotesque. Absurd. Profane. Hilarious. Revolting.
When searching for words to describe Hungarian director Gyorgy Palfi's hyper-bizarre follow-up to his award-winning 2002 feature debut, Hukkle, these are just a few of the colorful adjectives that spring immediately to mind. As difficult as Taxidermia may be to review, however, to give the impression that it isn't anything more than a series of surreal, occasionally stomach-turning scenes would do a grave disservice to the film. Upon closer inspection, we're treated to a transgressive study of the cycles of life that recalls the early efforts of Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro in its boundless creative energy and gorgeously cluttered visual style.
The story centers on three generations of social outcasts and their efforts to transcend their extreme poverty by accomplishing something that will cement their legacy. For Vendel Morosgovanyi (Csaba Czene), a berated, hair-lipped custodian stationed at a remote military outpost, it's something as simple as sleeping with his lieutenant's wife -- an act that earns him a bullet in the head. But dead as Vendel may be, his seed has been planted, and Kalman (Gergo Trocsanyi) is born. A competitive eater who longs for the day he may be recognized by the International Olympic Committee, Kalman finds companionship with Gizella (Adel Stanczel), a fellow "sport eater," and before long the couple has birthed a son -- the tiny Lajos. Flash forward to many years later -- Lajos (Marc Bischoff) is an unlucky-in-love taxidermist. His father has grown to gargantuan proportions following the failure of his marriage to Gizella, and when Lajos isn't stuffing animals he's forced to care for his immobile, verbally abusive dad in addition to tending to the old man's grossly overfed cats. After discovering his father dead under particularly unusual circumstances, Lajos dreams up a project that will establish him as one of the true visionary artists of his time while simultaneously bringing his family's bizarre legacy to an abrupt end.
A word to the wise for those still reading and interested in the film: you may want to consider forgoing the snacks and sodas before indulging in this little stomach-turning saga, because Taxidermia could easily be described as the anti-popcorn film. To try and enjoy a bowl of piping hot nachos as Kalman and his teammate have an intimate discussion about relationships while purging the chowder they just spent the last ten minutes gorging on would not only be an exercise in sheer cinematic masochism, but it would also abate the impact of Palfi and co-writer Lajos Parti Nagy's wondrously original saga. Sure, some weak-stomached moviegoers are bound to be turned off by Palfi 's whimsically obscene style from the moment Vendel's penis begins shooting flames less than five minutes into the film, but those who are capable of appreciating the humor in the human condition will quickly discover that, despite its unsightly blemishes, Taxidermia is a provocative glimpse into our deep-rooted drive to establish a lasting legacy, and a compellingly phantasmagoric study of the extreme lengths to which we will go to do so.
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- Released: 2005
- Rating: NR
- Review: Grotesque. Absurd. Profane. Hilarious. Revolting. When searching for words to describe Hungarian director Gyorgy Palfi's hyper-bizarre follow-up to his award-winning 2002 feature debut, Hukkle, these are just a few of the colorful adjectives that sprin… (more)