January 14, 2022
My first Szabo (outside an entry in the Ten Minutes Older anthology). I didn't really know what to expect, but based on the poster I had hoped for a slightly more expressive, unique film. Instead, Mephisto is a more traditional undertaking, one that submerges itself into the arts and theater world.
The plot revolves around Hendrik, a rather pretentious and self-righteous actor who enjoys some sudden success when he takes on the role of Mephisto. As the Nazis are slowly taking over the country, Hendrik struggles to balance his newfound popularity with the changing political circumstances, renouncing the people around him in favor of success.
It's a pretty familiar artist-gone-bad story, then again it is based on a literary classic, so that's not all too surprising. The direction is relatively vibrant, but only compared to similarly themed films. The setting is pretty poor (it never felt like pre-WWII Germany to me) and the acting was a bit overdone too. Not great.