Written By: Joe Dante
Check out the trailer for Bullhead at the end of the review!
Bullhead (Rundskop) is one of those films that is hard to write about without revealing too much. It is a film that must be seen to understand the experience. Bullhead is extremely well defined and the camera will allow the viewer to become a part of the story. There are moments of happiness and complete horror as the film effortlessly balances the two.
The film was released in 2011 and did not debut in the states until February 2012. Bullhead is a Belgian drama directed by Michael Roskam, and is his first feature film. Roskam put forth an impressive debut with this film. The film received many awards and accolades, but fell short when it was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at this past year’s Academy Awards.
Bullhead follows Jacky Vanmarsenille, played by Matthias Schoenaerts. Schoenaerts is unforgettable and menacing as a cattle farmer who has to inject testosterone daily. Revealing why Jacky has to use testosterone would ruin the film’s overall experience. Once the viewer sees the tragic events shaping the rest of Jacky’s life, the viewer may feel for Jacky as the camera brings the viewer closer to the film.
A veterinarian, who is a friend of Jacky, wants to set up a deal with a notorious West-Flemish beef trader. Jacky has learned about cattle farming all of his life. The family business deals with injecting illegal hormones into the cattle to make them fatter at an accelerated rate.
Jacky feels the deal with the “hormone mafia” is sketchy. A federal policeman is murdered affecting everyone in the story. Jacky’s past haunts him as a former friend helps make the deal with the hormones Jacky and his veterinarian friend need. These events force Jacky to relive his past making him stronger and more gullible as the film progresses.
There are scenes where Jacky is violent. Once the tragic events of Jacky’s traumatic childhood are revealed, the viewer should feel sympathy for Jacky. The mood and tone of the film guide the viewer into Jacky’s psyche. The elegant shots of Belgium’s countryside give this experience more pleasant feelings as we learn about Jacky and the events transpiring on the screen.
Bullhead is a film about the past shaping the present and what fate will ultimately give us. The camera effortlessly guides the viewer into the story as we learn about Jacky; the people around him, his past, who he is, and his fate at the end. Bullhead has a great supporting cast behind Schoenaert’s flawless performance. Hollywood Apples is picking Bullhead and highly recommends it. If you are looking for a unique foreign film, give this film a shot.