The Temptation of St. Tony

Director: Veiko Õunpuu
Screenwriters: Veiko Õunpuu

Institute History

  • 2010 Sundance Film Festival


To appreciate Veiko Õunpuu’s artful tale of moral confusion, let’s begin where he does—with Dante’s Inferno: “Midway upon the journey of our life, I found myself within a forest dark.”

Tony, a middle-aged, midlevel manager, leads a quiet life. But one day, he starts to question the value of being good. In a series of bizarre encounters in which he fires his employees, witnesses his wife’s infidelity, and meets a soon-to-be kidnapped girl (never mind the severed hands and mystery dog), Tony gradually becomes unhinged from reality.

Õunpuu’s second feature asks, what good is goodness when all it brings is loss? He gleefully supplants our sense of narrative context with avant-garde flourishes, wryly devised vignettes, and unfolding metaphors, stranding us in poor Tony’s forest dark. Provocative and evasive, the film infuses chaotic energy and emotional tension into its elegant black-and-white imagery. Õunpuu’s stark vision feels more like a dream (or nightmare) and recalls the beauty of being oblique.

— John Nein

Screening Details


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