Dir.: Peter Bergendy; Cast: Zsolt Anger, Peter Scherer, Bence Tasnadi, Zoltan Bezeredi, Gabriella Hamori; Hungary 2018, 85 min.
Set against the last knockings of the Hungarian Uprising in Autumn 1956, Peter Bergendy spins a story of police corruption into a fast and furious action thriller with some whip-smart plot twists, finally abandoning grim ultra-realism in a saccharine showdown.
Safe-cracker Janos Beck (Anger), a locksmith by trade, is serving a twenty year sentence for murder after a theft of gold bullion went wrong in the mid 1940s. But the murder was actually committed by secret police officer Kalman Honti (Scherer) during the bungled safe robbery that resulted in the death of one of the perpetrators.
By the Autumn of 1956 Soviet tanks have finally put paid to the Hungarian insurgence, and Honti offers to cut Beck’s remaining time in prison in exchange for opening the same safe, but time the quarry is Honti’s personal file in the Secret Police archives. Beck falls for the plan, but there’s a surprise in store in the vaults: a corpse and man in a tuxedo: pianist Geza Ivanyi (Tasnadi), who overwhelms Beck and chains him to the heating pipe. It turns out, the piano player was celebrating the success of the Uprising a few days previously, and is unaware that Russian tanks have reversed the situation. The two of them get into a philosophical debate, with Beck, who has educated himself while in prison, defending the Stalinist regime. Meanwhile, Honti is tasked with finding a way into the vault by Interior Minister Ferenc Münnich (Bezeridi). Suddenly Beck’s life is once again in danger.
Norbert Kobli’s script adds gravitas with some weighty political debates between Beck and Ivanyi, the former defending his jailers, while the pianist takes a libertarian line. Filming in and around Budapest, DoP Andras Nagy captures the dour prison atmosphere in a cold-blooded totalitarian regime that has long abandoned the credo it started out with. @AS
TREZOR IS NOW ON NETFLIX.