9 November 2012 | EdgarST
This remarkable film dramatizes the story of the Hungarian merchant sailor and serial killer Aro Tolbukhin, and extensively uses documentary footage of its subject, shot in Guatemala during the time he spent in a Catholic mission in the country side, and when he was captured, interviewed in the jail of Pavón and finally executed by a firing squad. A work directed by a team of three filmmakers led by Agustí Villaronga (who won the Goya award for «Black Bread») the film combines footage in many formats (video, Super 8, 16 and 35mm), echoing the many levels that conform its cinematic discourse: besides the Tolbukhin case, it covers the moving story of Carme Curt, an ex nun who had a strong emotional relationship with Tolbukhin; and also the efforts of French filmmakers Lise August and Yves Keetman to bring his story to the screen in the 1980s: the impact of the material they shot of the real Tolbukhin and the people who knew him in Guatemala (a priest, his lawyer, a peasant), incredibly grows, as the dramatic sections tell the story behind the crimes to the viewer. As it unfolds, the film reveals as a rich visual experience that never tries to hide its debt to imagination: it is illustrated by a black & white film-within-the-(color)film, called «The Uninhabited Dress», that elaborates a fictional and lyrical past to Aro's life as a child and adolescent, based on true facts, given in an interview by his old Hungarian nanny, Slamár Yulané. It is more an evocation than a reconstruction, for it is not a psychological reasoning about the actions of the killer, but an illustration of coincidences in his dramatic, tragic life. As it turns out, «Aro Tolbukhin» is like a Pandora's Box in reserve, that deserves to be seen
without any prejudice.