BloodyFootSex’s review published on Letterboxd:
I think I'm going to be the only person to ever see this movie and think, whenever it's over, "That's it?"
Not so because of the lack of content, surface-level depictions of its subjects, or especially due to the slower pacing, dragging out every moment, but because when it finally ended, after a seven and a half hour journey I took with this film, it felt like there was another hour or two left, with a few half an hour sequences left in the film.
There are many slow films, but Bela Tarr has always felt singular in his slow pacing. He somehow makes the most mundane tasks, ones that would take 5-10 minutes to complete, take 30 minutes to 1 hour, depending on the runtime, but make it feel like you've only spent 5-10 minutes watching the person do so. During the major scene in the bar, in which the townspeople gather to drink and dance, it was about 45 minutes to an hour of runtime, but it felt like just a few minutes like that hour was nothing.
The best way to describe the experience is "hypnotically boring", as yes, it's as boring as I'd imagine it would be, but I was also never uninterested or disengaged. As the end neared, where everything is coming into perspective, and it goes from one thing happening every 15-20 minutes, to three at the same time, it feels like whiplash, like a quick cutting action movie in comparison. While I got it all, it did begin to test my patience when it sped up a bit.
Runtime and pacing aside, as it's the easiest thing to talk about when it comes to a 432-minute film made up entirely of long takes, it is a truly singular work of feel bad cinema, where pessimism is always the way to confront a situation, even if it hurts others around that person, and the road out of the town is nearly impossible, not because they don't want to get out, but because the nation and it's governments make it hard to get out, both in the geographical, and the socio-economical.
A fascinating watch, but one that won't likely be revised until
A: It gets an actual US release; or the most likely reason
B: The 2030s, as it's length makes it hard to rewatch outside of an educational environment.
I would have been starting my Cannes lineup today and I needed to fill my high art void somehow!