Treasure City is a Hungarian film that follows a night in the lives of several characters scattered around a city. As the film progresses you learn more about each of these sets of characters and how they are all connected to each other in some form.
The influences of Treasure City are incredibly varied while very much being worn on the film’s sleeve. There’s a character who’s very similar to Ryan Gosling’s Driver from Drive, a character orders exactly what Dale Cooper from Twin Peaks would order from a bar, but the most obvious influence is Pulp Fiction. The film is made up of several vignettes that eventually come together in some way or another. Where Treasure City starts to divert from being just a Tarantino homage is the themes that these stories cover. There is a criminal undertone to some of the characters but it’s not the main focus. Instead a lot of the emphasis is on family and relationships, but it’s not a romantic comedy like Love, Actually. All of the relationships are broken in some way and the characters are trying and failing to fix them. There is also a weird unexplained supernatural element that randomly comes in at the end.
One story follows the life of an activist who in one scene starts a protest outside a government building. This is accompanied by a few scenes here and there being narrated by radio news bulletins about protests and civil unrest. It’s parts like this that reveal a sort of missed opportunity within Treasure City. If it had focused more on the politics of Hungary then it could have been a very fascinating look into this small central European nation that’s only really known for its tourist filled capital. Just in one scene, it’s revealed that seven people in Hungary commit suicide every day, making it number one in the world. It would have been interesting to explore why that is instead of just showing quite a basic series of stories about love and the lack of it.
Treasure City isn’t terribly made; it looks good, the music’s great and some of the directing is quite exciting. There’s a few quite cool shots, the ending shot specifically springs to mind as an interesting example. A lot of the scenes are all done in one take. This, added to the style of acting throughout, makes the whole film feel a lot like a play – which is ironic, since one scene turns out to actually be a play. Movies with this style need to be written exceptionally because it’s inherently undynamic. Sadly though, none of these characters have anything you can really invest in. None of them are very exciting people and the acting doesn’t help to make them any better.
The fall of the vignette film is that you need to be able to be a good writer to handle so many threads. Treasure City could have done with being a lot more focused, instead you’re left with a series of several stories that are quite nicely connected but ultimately are rather dull.
Treasure City will release 18th June in the UK.