Review: ‘Halgato’

The colorful, troubled lives of modern Gypsies provide the material for a treatment carefully poised between mythic and realistic in "Halgato." Long on cultural flavor and well-turned characters, if a tad short on thematic focus, pic is a natural for international fest and Eurotube playoff.

The colorful, troubled lives of modern Gypsies provide the material for a treatment carefully poised between mythic and realistic in “Halgato.” Long on cultural flavor and well-turned characters, if a tad short on thematic focus, pic is a natural for international fest and Eurotube playoff.

As unchanging as the Gypsy milieu seems, it takes a while to deduce that the drama’s opening transpires circa the late ’70s and not several decades earlier. In a brief preface, the title character, a young boy, is given a violin by his dying father, who’s been shot after killing a gendarme.

When the story picks up a few years later, Halgato’s a teenager with a well-developed musical gift, a charismatic tinker named Bumbas for a stepfather, and a half-brother named Pisti, with whom he has formed a close bond. Earning lots of cash for his fiddling, Halgato contributes generously to the education of Pisti, who, in growing ever more citified, becomes embarrassed enough by his heritage to deny it to schoolmates.

The constant fatalism that seems to pervade Gypsy life receives a dire confirmation when the easygoing Bumbas discovers that a fellow villager has raped his daughter, kills the man, and then dies in turn. The tragedy, though, has little evident effect on Pisti, who has found his first g.f., a turn of events that sends Halgato into a green-eyed rage.

Script doesn’t sufficiently explain the torrent of sexual jealousy Halgato directs at his sibling, but its result is clear enough: Tale’s final stretch generates real suspense over whether these two will make like Cain and Abel or manage to break their clan’s tradition of violence and misfortune.

Helmer Andrej Mlakar proves especially adept at rustic atmospheries and at assuring a consistent level of strong work from his cast. Tech credits are fine , with Saso Olenjuk’s score giving the proceedings a haunting aural backdrop.

Halgato

(SLOVENIAN)

Production

A Pegaz Films (Ljubljana) presentation. Directed by Andrej Mlakar, Screenplay, Feri Lainscek, Mlakar, based on the book "On Whose Behalf Does the Flower Bloom?" by Feri Lainseek.

Crew

Camera (color), Janez Kalisnik; editor, Stanko Kostanjevec: music, Saso Olenjuk; sound, Marjan Horvat. Reviewed at World Film Festival, Montreal (noncompeting), Aug. 31, 1995. Running time: 105 MIN.

With

With: Vlado Kreslin, Joze Kramberger, Mirjam Korbar. Kristjan Borovsac, Jernej Kuntner, Tanja Ribic.
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