A few months back, I caught the trailer for Taxidermia and immediately had to see the film. A triptych of tales, the thin script follows a family born into poverty. The original patriarch is an orderly at a wartime orphanage; while lusting after the two deliciously teenage girls stationed within, he explores his lust for fire and eventually impregnates the wife of the headmaster.
It gets a lot more outrageous from there. His son becomes a champion eater behind the Iron Curtain, where in this fictional reality speed eating has some Olympic potential. And after falling in love with a female eating champion, he too has a son who grows into a skinny, withdrawn taxidermist who specializes in oddities.
Taxidermia isn’t afraid of fluids, flesh or the sexuality, or the heaving, sexually aroused obese. What seems to strike fear into the heart of creator György Pálfi is character and story. There’s not much to hold your interest beyond the ceaseless progression of images. Admittedly, it’s a fantastic slideshow, and the sort of thing you’re not going to see repeated anywhere else, even in a visually oriented film like Tarsem’s The Fall.
That means that, in practice, this isn’t quite the successor to Jeunet and Caro I might have hoped for. Ruminations on family and the dignity of a calling aren’t so much hidden among the images as smothered by them. It’s easy to walk away from the film thinking you haven’t seen anything at all other than a carnival sideshow.