1:15 PM | Bullhead, Drafthouse Films, Reviews with 1 comments »
The mafia is alive and well in Belgium and runs the cattle business. Michael R. Roskam's film, "Bullhead" depicts a man who struggles with a steroid addiction and bullies his family's clients to keep their business.
Jacky Vanmarsenille (Matthias Schoenaerts) works with his brother and uncle in the family business, injecting the cattle with illegal hormones to bulk up the cattle faster than normal. He also does the same to himself. One day, hopped up on steroids and testosterone, Jacky goes along to make a deal with a shady individual only to find that an old childhood friend, Diederik (Jeroen Perceval), is also along for the ride, working for the enemy. Jacky and his friend share an unspoken secret: twenty years ago, Jacky was mercilessly bullied and tortured while Diederik saw the whole thing and ran off after it was over. Jacky has never forgotten this but tries desperately not to think about it while the deal goes down. He becomes suspicious of Diederik, since a recent crime involving the shooting of a local cop, who was investigating the illegal hormone trade, has made all the players nervous.
Due to the childhood trauma, Jacky is forever changed. He is disfigured and scarred, both physically and emotionally, but longs for companionship. He is in love with his nemesis' sister, Lucia, and reconnects with her via her perfume shop. Awkward and shy, he does not know exactly how to approach her. He follows her and a friend to a night club only to find that she's flirting with another man. Due to his steroid strength, Jacky is able to forcefully remove the rival, putting him into a coma. He envies his brother who has a fancy car, wife, and children, something Jacky will most likely never know anything about.
The investigation into the death of the police officer gets closer to Jacky's family. He learns of this through Diederik and then proceeds to remove his family from the cattle farm and tries to erase any traces of the illegal hormones and steroids. A final visit to Lucia brings the film to its sad denouement as Jacky has no where left to turn and no one left to trust.
Initially "Bullhead" seems like a generic crime thriller, but at the end of the movie, it's really about our relationships with friends and family and how early childhood experiences mold us into the adults we become. The film is shot in grays and sickly yellows, reflecting the lack of emotion in Jacky's life and it certainly lends the film the seriousness it needs. Nominated for a Best Foreign Language Oscar, Bullhead lost out to Iran's entry, "A Separation." First-time director, Michael Roskam has managed to make a taut, tense thrilling drama that is relevant on many topics. Tapped to next direct "The Tiger" based on John Vaillant's book of the same name, Roskam is one to watch.
2011 Rated R 124 minutes
Dutch & French with English subtitles