NANDOR FODOR AND THE TALKING MONGOOSE **** UK 2023 Dir: Adam Sigal. 96 mins
Transport yourself back to 1930s England and an interesting real-life mystery of Gef (pronounced “Jeff”) a talking mongoose. This is not an absurdist comedy although some may argue that it fits more into the realm of satire. Delve into Nandor Fodor And The Talking Mongoose from writer/Director Adam Sigal.
Based on a true event on the Isle of Man in which a local family in 1935, Hungarian-American parapsychologist Nandor Fodor began his investigation. A rural family said they had been contacted by an entity at their farm. The result was Gef a talking mongoose who would spy on the people. He hurls objects from remote holes in the walls and even bounces his ball to a miniature victrola.
This is a picture when the story and the film is important beyond measure. The film is wonderfully photographed with detail and colors you can almost taste the gin and feel the scrunch of the leather and itchy heavy tweed. The film takes the ensemble idea of a mystery like Knives Out (2019) and huge books like Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke putting it all on the screen with flash, dash, and understated humour.
The actors are by no means wooden as some of the sets such as Simon Pegg, Minnie Driver, and Christopher Lloyd all have a field day with characters and mountains of dialogue. Huge talking bits that miss Christopher Walken and his monologues in Paul Schrader’s The Comfort Of Strangers (1990) and other films. Each actor works a specific speech pattern, Christopher Lloyd being a nurturing authoritarian and Minnie Driver being the proper high-pitched voiced assistant all led by Simon Pegg who drinks, smokes, and laconically runs the show. Kudos to Paul Kaye as Maurice, a mumble, broken kindly enjoyer of whiskey who in one of the best moments breaks down at the funeral while meeting Gef behind a church wall.
Nandor Fodor And The Talking Mongoose (2023) is not a film with coach chases, jump scares, people sticking pencils in their noses humour but one that requires listening and a relaxing attitude from the audience. In some cases, the dialogue gets in the way of the dialogue meaning some moments could use the less is more suggestion.
Intriguing yes, inflated yes with some precise film acting and characters in the odd story of redemption Nandor Fodor And The Talking Mongoose (2023) is a work that needs time, a warm fire, and an accompanying libation to transport you into a world of an absurd mystery.
Review by Terry Sherwood