And it happens again. After watching so many films over the years, it’s hard to really feel for a character or a situation depicted in a film. You appreciate a film clinically, the acting is good, the photography is fantastic and so, but to be affected by the fate of the film’s protagonist is tough. It’s an wondrous experience when it happens. This is what happened with ‘Bullhead,’ a Belgian film nominated for Oscar in the foreign film category. I finished watching this two-hour, slow arthouse thriller with an ending that doesn’t end, and then watched it again. This is how much I was affected by the fate of Jacky Vanmarsenille and his once childhood friend Diederik Maes.
Technically, the film focuses on cattle-rearing, and the hormone Mafia and beef trade in Limburg in Flanders, in Belgium, where one half of the population speaks Dutch and other French, I am not sure of the socio-political equation and it doesn’t matter. Here, Jacky, muscled-up and violent, the bullhead of the title, is a cattle farmer who also helps his ambitious, unscrupulous uncle. His very presence scares competition. He has this personality, you don’t want to mess with him. Then we see him alone, injecting himself with testosterone, just like the animals are injected growth hormones, and you sense, something is wrong. Now, the uncle is invited to a partnership with the hormone mafia from Flanders, and Jacky senses that something is wrong, especially when he sees Diederik Maes as the mediator. We sense that there’s a connection between Jacky and Diederik. You’ll have to wait a while to find out. There’s also the case of a murdered police officer; a bullet-ridden getaway car; a shady investigation by the authorities, for whom Diederik works as informant, there’s reason for it, he fancies the investigating officer Anthony; a girl in a perfume shop, Lucia, and whole lot of other things. The film demands your full attention.
Then we go back to 20 years, when it all begun. And it’s downhill from then...
Bullhead review on twitchfilm.
Bullhead review at Film School Rejects.