Cert: TBC Year: 2011 Length: 124 mins Language: Dutch/French
Cinema Handout (PDF 110KB)
Score: 75% Attendance: 60
Jacky Vanmarsenille is the Bull of the title, a hulking, thug of a man, a low-level cattle farmer with a sideline in intimidation for the 'hormone mafia'. With access to all the hormones and a lack of confidence in his own masculinity he has been unable to resist trying the drugs himself, building his body up and his temper at the same time.
In this story, based on a true event in Belgium when a meat inspector was killed to stop him revealing the use of growth hormones in the cattle industry, director Michael Roskam takes us into this world of crime, showing the seedy side of Belgium, but the result is more than a thriller, more a dark look into the character of Jacky; a sort of 'farm noir'?
We are tempted from the off just to see Jacky as the macho, low-life thug he appears, but Roskam, by showing us his early life through a series of flashbacks, gradually builds a picture of a seriously damaged man, looking for a way through his life. What could make a man risk his life taking what should be lethal doses of cattle hormones? Don't judge him too harshly until we get to the flashback which reveals all. As in the classic 'Sophie's Choice', you will know which flashback is THE one when you see it...
Jacky is played by Matthias Schoenaerts (who, himself, bulked-up especially for the part, but not with cattle hormones). He has had rave reviews for the portrayal, and it has already won him the co-starring part in 'Rust and Bone' shown recently at the Alhambra . "It's an amazing performance. At times in the film he moves like a bull, he actually looks like a bull" Chris Summers, BBC.
The film itself was an unlikely nomination for the Oscar for Best Foreign Language film. Whether Keswick will find this justified or not, we shall see, but Schoenaerts' performance is universally proclaimed. A star is born?
Part character study, part crime thriller, "Bullhead" is the impressive but deeply flawed first feature written and directed by Michael R. Roskam.
Stephen Holden, New York Times
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