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Marina Antunes [Film Festival 10.03.14] Hungary drama

The concept for György Pálfi Free Fall holds so much promise: a woman climbs the stairs of an apartment building and we get a glimpse of what's going on behind the doors of an apartment on each floor. It's a great set-up for an anthology film though here, Pálfi and collaborating directors Gergely Pohárnok and Zsófia Ruttkay take on all seven stories and the result is exactly what most other anthology films deliver: a mixed bag.

The set-up is interesting enough; the aforementioned old lady climbs the stairs of her apartment building to the roof, jumps off and lands on the road with a splat. Minutes later she stands up, brushes herself off and goes back into the building where's she's forced to walk up the stairs because the elevator is being serviced. There's no explanation as to how or why she's doing this but it does turn out to be one of the more interesting and entertaining aspects of Free Fall. As she climbs, we get a glimpse at what's unfolding behind the doors and it ranges in everything form a Korean sitcom to a woman having a baby shoved back into her stomach.

Though not the strangest, one of the more entertaining segments is one featuring a germaphobic couple which is notable not only for its striking visuals, everything is white and wrapped in plastic which is a great contrast to most of the other segments which are dark and dimly lit, but for just how quickly it goes from strange to funny to down right creepy. The segment also happens to include one of the oddest sex scenes you're likely to see.

The problem is that besides this striking segment, there's very little of interest in Free Fall. The old lady and her husband make for a funny pair, particularly the husband who oscillates between ignoring his wife and thinking she's nipping from his special bottle (he goes to some funny lengths to ensure that no one is going into the cupboard) and calling on her with such urgency one might think he'll die if she doesn't respond. They're a humorous pair but there doesn't seem to be any point to them or, for that matter, to anything else in the movie.

It's a great concept and there are some interesting concepts floating around Free Fall but most of them are painfully dull in execution or so buried under so many layers of pretence that they're just lost. It's a stylish movie with a great premise that falls flat.

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