István (Péter Rudolf, left), a small-town magistrate in Hungary at the end of World War II, worries about two unwelcome visitors in the black-and-white drama “1945.” (Lenke Szilagyi/Menemsha Films)
Reporter

Rating: 2 stars

The arrival of two laconic strangers (Iván Angelusz and Marcell Nagy) in a small Hungarian town in August of 1945 precipitates a commotion in Ferenc Török’s black-and-white drama of buried secrets that won’t stay buried. The men — a Jewish father and son bearing two small, coffinlike wooden crates said to be full of perfumes and cosmetics — make their way, over the course of the beautifully photographed if at times overwrought tale, from the train station to their final destination, which is best left unnamed. Old sins and poetic justice will be given an airing.

Chief among the perturbed is István (Péter Rudolf), the town’s officious clerk and magistrate, who tries to allay the fears of the populace that the visitors have come to take something back: presumably, housing and property belonging to the town’s Jews, who were displaced (and probably exterminated) before the Russians moved in to drive out the Nazis. István frets while making preparations for the wedding of his son (Bence Tasnádi) and trying to cope with his opium-addicted wife (Eszter Nagy-Kálózy).

There’s an air of “High Noon” to Török’s drama, which features an intrusive sound design, including Tibor Szemzö’s jarringly contemporary score and sound effects that include the ringing of a clock tower, buzzing flies, rumbling thunder and noisy birds — which transition from pleasant tweets to ominous caws of crows by the climax.

There is a train that leaves town at 3, and more travelers will be on it than the two who arrived at the film’s start. But there is no escaping the past, “1945” suggests, in a dark and uneasy Holocaust fable.

Unrated. At Landmark’s Bethesda Row Cinema and the Cinema Arts Theatre. Contains coarse language, brief sensuality, drunkenness, smoking and a violent image. In Hungarian and some Russian with subtitles. 91 minutes.