Berlin film festival 2011: Rundskop ('Bullhead'), hormonal bestial Flemish crime drama

Article published on Feb. 17, 2011
community published
Article published on Feb. 17, 2011
Jacky Vanmarsenille (Matthias Schoenarts) didn't really get a chance in life. As he tells us at the beginning of the film, over some beautiful Flemish landscape, life is fucked. The man works in meat: beef farming is in the family. His livelihood is fed with hormones to make faster business, and his body and soul are nourished by them too.
We learn to love this ghastly character as the director takes us back into a tragic incident in his childhood on the Flemish-French border and to the present, where he is caught up in unscrupulous meat business and a local murder.

Arund No, this is no In Bruges (2008), the last black crime film to be set in Flanders. Yet what a debut feature from Belgian director Michael R Roskam. We're not quite sure what to tell you. Dodgy farmers in Belgium might not be the sexiest setting to sell a film to an audience yet. The larger context of the story which Jacky gets caught up in is a little sketchy to grasp onto, unlike a Tarantino or Guy Ritchie cheeky movie where the various villains are easy to recognise. But the cameras hold their own in moving the story along, the light is beautiful in Limburg and we're exposed to the heart of a man whose heart was stamped on long ago. Throw in that little French-Flemish thread, and there's a light tension in the movie throughout as the Belgians meet each other across the different languages of their regions, which is worth the entertainment. Heck, it's even funny to see how the Belgian characters resort to English exclamations and words to express themselves to each other.

Abulls Not an uplifting story, nor for bleeding Belgium as a country (it just hit the world records for time out of government), but what feels an authentic look from lowlands Belgium; Roskam, who also wrote the script, grew up in Sint-Truiden himself, so we imagine he schooled certain of his characters well from his memories. Forgettable they aren't.

Watch the trailer for Rundskop with English subtitles

The official website for Rundskop