A widescreen black-and-white slacker comedy featuring droll wit and a keen sense of timing coated in a dreamlike ennui, “Black Brush” reps a distinctive bit of mischief for young helmer Roland Vranik. Winner of top honors for film, producers and lensing at the recently-wrapped Hungarian Film Week, work is now poised to rep the new generation of Magyar filmmakers at high-profile international fests and could earn modest coin in limited art-house runs before discovering a fresh ancillary aud among couch jockeys too mellow to leave the house.
Four stoner buddies run a dramatically inept chimneysweep business: Zoli (Gergely Banki), Anti (Csaba Hernadi), Dofi (Karoly Hajduk) and Papi (Andras Rethelyi) seem to have selected their profession for the opportunities it provides to zone out on a series of rooftops. As they work hard to avoid labor over the course of one hot summer, the loss of a large sum of the boss’ money in a cockfight begins a weird yet seemingly pre-ordained chain of events.
The lottery ticket they need to recoup their foolhardy investment is eaten by a goat, the slaughtering of which yields not the desired item, but the key to an expensive car parked in the garage run by a religious sect. And so on, with brief side trips for discussions on modern photography and the origins of the Hungarian flag, as well as the hallucinatory fantasy of a mind-altered goat (this involves a lot of cabbage).
Unfolding like a dream, the story has the weird mechanics and clockwork precision of a Rube Goldberg construction, only a whole lot slower. The effect on the receptive viewer is comfortably hypnotic in the spirit of early Jim Jarmusch, aided by the precise performances — transcending the subtitles — Vranik orchestrates among his principles. The fine tech package is lead by the formal simplicity of co-scripter Gergely Poharnok’s elegant camerawork and a score by Realistic Crew that sounds at times like a series of finely tuned door hinges.
Though pic was still in search of a domestic distributor on the day of its press premiere in Budapest, the film week prizes assure pic the momentum to reach a target demographic Vranik dryly described as “elevated from reality.”