Saturday, August 27, 2016


Written & Directed By: Michael R. Roskam 
Cinematography By: Nicolas Karakatsanis 
Editor: Alain Dessauvage 

Cast: Matthias Schoenaerts, Jeroen Perceval, Jeanne Dandoy, Barbara Sarafin, Tibo Vandenborre, Frank Lamers

*Please note that some trivia and facts have been republished from imdb among other sources In this review

In Belgium. The young Limburg cattle farmer Jacky Vanmarsenille, is approached by an unscrupulous veterinarian to make a shady deal with a notorious West-Flemish beef trader. But the assassination of a federal policeman, and an unexpected confrontation with a mysterious secret from Jacky's past, set in motion a chain of events with far-reaching consequences. BULLHEAD is an exciting tragedy about fate, lost innocence and friendship, about crime and punishment, but also about conflicting desires and the irreversibility of a man's destiny.

This movie took me by surprise. Knew it had been highly recommended but never actually knew what it was about. So luckily I went in blind. Which might en the best way for most of you to discover it.

The film is a crime story on the outside mixed in with a character tale that includes inner turmoil and being haunted by experiences of the past. A lot of the turns the story takes could be seen as fate and coincidence. If the area in which they live wasn't so small.

Though fate does play a big role through the film and to help certain people fall victim to acts they had coming to them and some who were innocent and just got caught up in the middle.

The film is more a character study and poses the question what it means to be whole and a complete person.

The film and it's main character seem to be bottled up and calm to a degree but show they are so full of rage and emotions. That are barely and rarely released that we wonder when it will all explode. As we never really get to know exactly how he is feeling or really explained too much about him instead it is more told through body language and facial movements.

The film adds some mystery. Like we wonder is he the one who assaulted his attacker and made him the way he is in the hospital? Was he really going to attack the woman from his past for revenge or was he trying to more make a connection on an old crush.

We wonder what happens or how does he feel around women. He is obviously attracted or has he pushed them so far out of his mind he barely notices them or does he punish himself more as he knows he can never open up to them or have a so called normal relationship. Though always seems to have a fascination, especially with one in particular.

The film contains one scene of senseless brutality that is hard to watch. Even if nothing is shown and is more Implied. It sets up the future and further dooms many lives from that one incident.

The film seems scattershot at times while trying to have a dark bleak mood. As it has a crossroads of storylines and characters. Who come In And out of the tale. Though it then is obvious that this is all for set-up for later scenes when all of them cross paths and come together. Even in it's morose mood the film sprinkles some comedy albeit dark comedy throughout.

According to Director Michaël R. Roskam, his inspiration for the film was based on a crime scene in Belgium known as the Belgium Hormone Mafia. He spent six years working on the project, back then, Matthias Schoenaerts started working out to have a little basis to work from once he knew when they would shoot the film. Before "Bullhead", Roskam and Schoenaerts had worked together on the short film, THE ONE THING TO DO.

One expects more of the crime story actually.

Michael R. Roskam’s direction is crisp scenes always seem small but seem to want to expand to make the film feel bigger as well as the situations. Even though it is stripped down. It keeps what is important always on display. As the film is more of a character study then an ensemble crime story that is intended. The other characters seem there more as dressing to pad out the story.

The main character always seems to be a victim and even when he tries to take his life back. Everything goes downhill. So that by the end. It feels like a sad portrait that is draining as an audience member. His character takes steroids hat build up his body, but break him down internally as well.

Matthias Schoenaerts had to cultivate 27 kilograms of muscle mass to apply himself to the role of Jacky Vanmarsenille, he prepped for the role for two years, committing to a diet of 3000 tins of tuna, several hundred chickens and plenty of oats, rice and pasta combined with an exhaustive weight lifting regimen. In addition, he also wore a prosthetic nose.

As make him over emotional, combustible as well as his living a lonely life with no one to really talk to leaves him With only himself more and more with his thoughts. So that leaves him fighting against the world and himself and his thoughts. A dangerous mixture.

So when a friend from past pops up in a deal he is trying to make. It only helps to bring back old bad memories.

This friend also has questions of loyalty as he was more or less held back from helping or coming into help when it was too Late and even later he tries to help but proves again to be too little too Late. Though knows how to save himself.

He can't really be with woman. Which seems to be as much an emotional block as physical. So what they seem almost like sacred cows to his bull. Which would help explain one part of the title. It also has to do with their illegal Deals.

The film so draining but worth it. I decided to finally check this film out after watching and enjoying the collaboration between director and star here, Only with bigger Hollywood names in his English language debut film THE DEAL. Which I believe is worth watching more plot oriented but just as heartbreaking and intricate.

At heart this film is more a tragedy than anything else.

Grade: B+

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