Review: ‘Joan’

A way-out concept is stretched way beyond its limits in "Joan," a modern reworking of the Jeanne d'Arc story staged as sung-through opera in the style of Gothic-Hungarian grunge. Young Magyar helmer Kornel Mundruczo has produced a pic that won't go much further than outre fest slots and experimental opera events.

A way-out concept is stretched way beyond its limits in “Joan,” a modern reworking of the Jeanne d’Arc story staged as sung-through opera in the style of Gothic-Hungarian grunge. Expanding on an idea from his short, “Joan of Arc of the Night Bus” — part of the episode pic “Lost and Found” (2003) — young Magyar helmer Kornel Mundruczo (“Pleasant Days”) has produced a pic that won’t go much further than outre fest slots and experimental opera events.

Striking blonde actress Orsi Toth (also in “Night Bus”) plays the title character, a drug addict who falls into a coma after a traffic accident, miraculously recovers, and stays on in the lugubrious hospital as a nurse, curing patients by lying beside them. The joint’s regular staff, including a doctor she rebuffs, eventually turns against her, and she ends up in a body bag, incinerated on a garbage heap. Zsofia Taller’s angular, rhythmic score, with everyday lyrics (“Let’s run to Urology!”), loses its shine after the initial reels, and the relentless, zombie-like color palette (moldy greens, vivid scarlets) and bloody surgical details show little variation across the 86-minute running time.

Joan

Hungary-France

Production

A The Coproduction Office presentation, in association with Motion Picture Public Foundation of Hungary and Mokep, of a T.T. Filmmuhely, Proton Cinema production. (International sales: The Coproduction Office, Paris.) Produced by Viktoria Petranyi, Bela Tarr. Co-producers, Philippe Bober, Susanne Marian, Gyorgy Horvath. Directed by Kornel Mundruczo. Screenplay, Mundruczo, Viktoria Petranyi, Yvette Biro.

Crew

Camera (color), Andras Nagy, Matyas Erdely; editor, Vanda Aranyi; music, Zsofia Taller; art director, Mundruczo. Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (Un Certain Regard), May 17, 2005. Hungarian dialogue. Running time: 86 MIN.

With

Orsi Toth, Zsolt Trill, Ildiko Cserna, Denes Gulyas, Istvan Gantner.
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