Film review: Bullhead (15)
A surprise nominee for Best Foreign Language Film in last year's Academy Awards, this intricate Belgian drama thrums with foreboding from the very start.
Matthias Schoenaerts plays Jacky, a reticent labourer on his uncle's farm who works on the fringes of the underworld, trafficking in cattle hormones and delivering smacks to recalcitrant locals.
Bovine and bulked up on steroids, Jacky is a damaged soul, though we don't know how badly until the film flashes back to the atrocious assault he suffered as a boy.
The plot is a murky stew of stolen cars, dodgy deals and police surveillance, thickened by the multiplicity (Flemish and Walloon) of the Belgian tongue and the reappearance in Jacky's life of the friend (Jeroen Perceval) who witnessed his traumatic maiming of 20 years before.
Debutant director Michaël R Roskam doesn't often depict violence, though its threat lives in the air of this drab, rural milieu.
Even the way men eat dinner together feels fraught with tension. Perhaps the denouement could have been a little trimmer and tighter given the excellence of what precedes it, but the fatalistic mood reverberates long after you've seen it.
Music Why this music festival is still the place to spot the next big thing
Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Finland schools: Subjects scrapped and replaced with 'topics' as country reforms its education system
- 2 The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
- 3 Watch: Man takes selfie every mile of 2,600 mile hike, creates amazing timelapse video
- 4 The day I starred in Only Fools and Horses
- 5 Scientists have discovered a simple way to cook rice that dramatically cuts the calories
Britain's first cinema flickers back to life following £6m refurbishment
Zayn Malik already working on solo material, just days after quitting One Direction
A historian gave the most British look of despair when someone screwed up Richard III's birthday at his reburial
James May hints Top Gear days are over following Jeremy Clarkson's BBC exit
Fifty Shades of Grey movie shows first sex scene 'after 40 minutes'
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
Revealed: Putin's army of pro-Kremlin bloggers
The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
Germanwings plane crash: Co-pilot Andreas Lubitz wanted to 'do something people would remember him for'