Caleb Day’s review published on Letterboxd:
Hard to Watch: Based on the Novel ‘Stone Cold Nihilism’ by Patience.
Often, I was gripped by the performances and the dialogue. More often, I had to avail myself of the Wikipedia synopsis to understand what little was happening. It was consistently cinematographically beautiful, but often comparable to being forced to look at a beautiful photograph in an art gallery for minutes on end without knowing how long you’ll be kept there.
Tarr is certainly a thought-provoking, sense-provoking artist with undeniable genius (and Krasznahorkai deserves some of this praise too). The film provides an intriguing mix of realism and surrealism in its characters and their behaviours. He’s certainly a compelling villain, and it does end interestingly. By the end the film has provided some pretty strong social criticism that’s still at least as relevant now. I remained, to various degrees, engaged throughout. But in terms of what it provides the viewer in comparison to what it requires from the viewer, I don’t think it’s worth a higher rating than 4. (It’s not just about runtime, but it’s not not about runtime. You could watch Roma, Eraserhead, and the full cut of Andrei Rublev in the same time and get what you get out of this and more, without the misogyny. In fact, you’d still have time to watch A Trip to the Moon for your pudding. Alternatively, how about every single episode of The Day Today and Brass Eye plus the film Before Sunset.)
I might increase the rating in the future if it sticks with me (I already increased it from 3.5 on immediate reflection), but I very much doubt I’ll watch it again even once, let alone joining the ranks re-watching it every year.
BTW, I wonder if this is structurally overrated on websites like this by the fact that people who give up on it are unlikely to rate it. (That wouldn’t explain the Sight and Sound votes though.)
“… human life is meaningful, rich, beautiful and filthy. It links everything. People mistreat freedom, only wasting it, as if it was junk. People don’t like freedom… they are afraid of it. The strange thing is there is nothing to fear about freedom. Order, on the other hand, can often be frightening.”
“The Turks are coming!”