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Bullhead


A drama with balls about a guy with none.

Rod Lott June 28th, 2012

One of this year's Academy Award nominees for Best Foreign Language Film, the Belgian drama Bullhead does nothing to change the public perception that the category's entrants wear perpetual frowns. After all, its protagonist so clearly, so early, states his life's motto: "You're always fucked."

bullhead

Hey, guys, you'd feel the same if you had no testicles.

Bullhead is not, however, your average chunk of Oscar bait. In fact, nothing about it is average. Its distributor is Drafthouse Films, the theatrical arm of the legendary — among outré-cinema enthusiasts, at least — Austin, Texas-based Alamo Drafthouse, where you can enjoy a full meal and a full bar while you watch the world's cream of the cult crop.

Written and directed by one Michael R. Roskam, Bullhead is not the most obvious choice to land on the Alamo's radar — compare it to Drafthouse Films' other new Blu-ray release, The FP, a comedy about a dueling dance gamers — but bully on them for taking the chance. It's certainly worth it.

Matthias Schoenaerts (Black Book) commands our attention as Jacky, a more or less good man mixed up in the "hormone mafia." He's so juiced on steroids, he's like a walking Charles Atlas ad, and everyone around him is the 90-pound weakling.

It wasn't always that way. As a most disturbing flashback reveals, the Jacky of 20 years earlier (Robin Valvekens) was the small fry. One afternoon, the young boy became the unwitting target of a psychotic teen who leaves Jacky's body — and, perhaps more importantly, his identity — forever altered.

The shocking act required him to take testosterone to compensate. While it built his muscles to a point of hulking, it could not help his utter awkwardness around women, which becomes painfully evident in his wooing of a perfume saleswoman (Jeanne Dandoy) with unpleasant ties to his past.

Bullhead attacks with its fair share of tragedy amid criminal families, rendering it like a more depressing Animal Kingdom, but — as with that 2010 Oscar-nommed film from Australia — acted with magnetism. Sure to put him on the map of international film, Schoenaerts' impressive, arresting performance makes the movie's minor flaws hardly worth mentioning.

Besides, I greatly value my testes. —Rod Lott

Hey! Read This:
The FP Blu-ray review  


 
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