György Pálfi’s His Master’s Voice is a thoroughly confusing, questionably plotted sci-fi film that is hindered by a myriad of subplots, vague ideas, and an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to combine traditional fictional filmmaking practices with mock-documentary elements.
The film follows a Hungarian man as he travels to the United States to locate his missing father, whom he believes is implicated in military conspiracy that caused several spontaneous combustions in Colorado. Although the narrative appears straightforward, His Master’s Voice vies for a more ambitious and philosophical tone, leading to several competing styles, themes, ideas, and stories all vying for attention in one film.
His Master’s Voice frequently veers between different styles, from a traditional, if aesthetically laboured, narrative film with some experimental elements, to mock-documentary style news reportage and archival footage providing some backstory to the events. Additionally, fantastical moments interrupt the film suddenly, including a particularly bizarre occasion where the main protagonist confronts a naked giant. While the combination of different styles and modes of narration are interesting, the film fails to make a compelling case for their inclusion. Instead, these sudden shifts complicate the film’s coherency. Ultimately, though, it is unclear what any of these images actually mean.
While it’s ambition is commendable, His Master’s Voice offers a disastrous smorgasbord of vague ideas and images under which the film collapses. Ironically, His Master’s Voice struggles to find its own.
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Mark Barber: @WorstCinephile