22-05-2010

FNE at Cannes IFF 2010: TENDER SON - The Frankenstein Project

By

CANNES: Hungarian director Kornel Mundruczo's Tender Son - The Frankenstein Project was a late entrant to the Cannes competition lineup and perhaps it was meant to inject an element of controversy into the competition. The film is definitely central European and its inconceivable it could have originated from anywhere else with its bleak and heavy feeling and mood. Mundruczo has already proved his ability as a master of visual display in his previous film, Delta, and Tender Son delivers on this front with full force. Whether or not the script lives up the same standards of is earlier work is a question that is surely to be hotly debated.

The leading role of Viktor, a film director, is played by Mundruczo himself, and the obvious questions of how much the film is an introspective look at his own feelings as an artist is sure to interest viewers.

Viktor is casting for his next film project and using non-professionals. He pushes them intensely in improvisational scenes to see how far they can go emotionally. When he pushes the 17-year-old Rudi, played by Rudolf Frecska, too far, the teenager suddenly murders the young girl that he was playing the scene with. Rudi has recently left a orphan's home and has stumbled into the auditions by mistake. Emotionally crippled he is looking for love but unable to connect or respond. He inhabits a bleak and distorted emotional world. Rudi escapes from the scene of the murder and as Viktor hunts for the boy he gradually realizes that this in fact is his son who be fathered but took no responsibility either in the relationship with his mother or in the not crippled boy's upbringing. He has created this young Frankenstein.

Fateful meetings of time, place and location take the film quickly into the territory of modern myth and Rudi hides out in the building where the casting was taking place and discovers that the caretaker is his estranged mother who dumped him in an orphanage. Like his Frankenstein character Rudi continues to cause damage and several more murders unintentionally as part of his crippled state. Viktor when he discovers the boy living in the building and realizes what a monster he has become cannot give him up to the police and so tries to help him escape over the border.

Mundruczo, like most Hungarian filmmakers also works in theatre and he has explored the Frankenstein theme previously with a successful stage show that toured throughout Europe. But here the script seems unsure of itself and even at times confused as the action and motivations of the characters are disjointed and do not always follow in sequence, almost as if some parts had been left out. This is the sure hand of an accomplished artist but he fails to deliver the dramatic impact of his earlier works.

TENDER SON - The Frankenstein Project directed by Kornel Mundruczo

HUNGARY, GERMANY, AUSTRIA

Cast: Kitty CSÍKOS

Rudolf FRECSKA

Lili MONORI

Kornél MUNDRUCZÓ

Miklós SZÉKELY