Every now and then I run across a film that is entertaining and well done, but at the same time almost defies classification. BULLHEAD is one of those films. It is an amazing Belgian movie that is labeled as a crime-drama but is actually an even bigger hybrid than that.
If you are not familiar with BULLHEAD, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of the Image Entertainment press release:
Domineering cattle farmer Jacky Vanmarsenille became reliant on steroids and hormones following a childhood trauma. After he initiates a shady deal with a notorious Mafioso meat trader, circumstances lead him down a twisted road of vengeance and torment. When an investigating federal agent is assassinated and a woman from his horrid past resurfaces, Jacky must confront far-reaching consequences and whether the real meaning of manhood is hormonal or emotional.
The plot, as you can see from the synopsis above, is not the average run-of-the-mill crime-drama. It is an interesting foray into something unique. BULLHEAD is also a foreign film, which allows the audience some insight into a different culture as well.
Part of the film was difficult for me (as a guy) to watch. It involves a bully who crushes a young boy’s testicles with a rock. Although the film is by no means graphic in its depiction of this event, the brutality is conveyed exponentially by what we don’t see. I admit that I literally cringed during this scene, although it is certainly necessary is a key component of the plot.
BULLHEAD contains some stunning cinematography, with plenty of long, sweeping shots and many moving/panning scenes. The keen, artistic eye that director Michael R. Roskam uses for the film is aptly conveyed onto the screen. The result is a beautiful film that leaves you in awe of its appearance.
But although the film is entertaining and intense, it does contain a couple of negative aspects. For one, the movie has a very slow pace, which almost forced me to lose interest about halfway through it. Normally, I can overlook this...but the film clocks in at two hours in length, so any added minutes should definitely have been removed. And secondly, for as compelling as the story is, there’s not much actually going on. This is weird to say, but I suppose I was expecting more from a film labeled as a crime-drama.
Still, BULLHEAD is definitely one to check out if you enjoy foreign films. It was an Academy Award Nominee for Best Foreign Language Film, and deservingly so. I am even happy to announce that it does NOT have a crappy English dub-over...you have to read the subtitles, which works for this kind of film.
BULLHEAD hits shelves tomorrow.