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Katalin Varga review

The eponymous Katalin is a Romanian peasant woman (played by Hilda Péter) who, banished by her husband, is travelling by horse and cart with young son Orbán (Norbert Tankó) through the Carpathian mountains.

Her quest? To find and take revenge on the two men who raped her in a forest years earlier. But then she discovers that one of her attackers, Antal (Tibor Pálffy), is now a devoted family man…

Remarkably, this isn’t the work of a seasoned eastern European filmmaker, but the feature debut of thirtysomething British director/scripter/ producer Peter Strickland.

Deliberately paced, it has the timeless, brooding quality of a tragic folk tale, in which violence begets more violence. Strickland builds and sustains an ominous atmosphere through stark images, artfully heightened sound design and an otherworldly score.

He’s not the only first-timer who dazzles – newcomer Péter brings fierce commitment to her avenging-angel role.

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