Joakim (Paperinukke)’s review published on Letterboxd:
The collaboration between Béla Tarr and László Krasznahorkai is one of the most important and meaningful things happened in the history of art. Krasznahorkai's ultra-realistic, suffocating social commentary together with Tarr's unique sense of style is something that truly defines cinema as a channel to challenge the audience in unthinkable ways. This film - Kárhozat - is the starting point of Krasznahorkai & Tarr.
During the first scene of Kárhozat, I was already in tears. The film carries such supernatural power, and even the very title strikes the first punch as you feel it slowly soaking in. Damnation. We follow Miklós B. Székely's Karrer, who's trying to get a grasp of life while aimlessly wandering through the city, finally meeting 'The Singer' (Vali Kerekes), a married woman singing her life away in Titanik Bar. Will their relationship result in their salvation, or destruction?
Tarr's eye for haunting, long and consuming takes exists in Kárhozat. Compared to Sátántangó, however, the impact has different yet similar flavours. In this film there's somehow stronger hope, perhaps even love, good and precious feelings pressured by the world's unbearable weight. Normal human beings inside of a machine, the rain washing the filth away. The cold, bleak shots dripping with despair trying to erase the society's last remaining bits of hope. Without any kind of hope for tomorrow, what are we reduced to - empty husks simply surviving, or savage beasts?
Doesn't hit you like the sledgehammer of Sátántangó, but still, I can't imagine anything else but 5 stars. The bitterly humane atmosphere remains. It's all about nothing. We don't see our mistakes; we repeat them. We repeat, repeat and repeat, as Tarr displays the meaningless parts of life. Should we try to grab these moments, should we accept them, should we... I don't know. In the end, what else can we really do but exist. It brings desperation, but through Kárhozat I found my peace.
When you look out the window, what do you see?