THAT AIN'T A TOILET, MATTHIAS! Jeez, these Belgians have no manners.
When you sin against beef, you sin against yourself
This could be the most convoluted, least-illuminating movie description I’ve ever written, but the best way I can describe Bullhead is that it’s a movie that a more understated, less style-preoccupied Guy Ritchie would’ve made, if he was trying to rip off Scorsese instead of Tarantino. Also, it’s sort of like Black Swan, if the Black Swan had been a Belgian gangster. Totally makes sense, right? Now you understand completely, I should probably just stop right here.
It’s okay. That it’s so hard to classify is a big part of the charm.
There’s nothing like an eccentric film that carries on without any apology for its eccentricity. Hollywood’s mainstream studio pictures are so obsessed with starting from a place of familiarity that you get to see the same bullshit a thousand times over, solely out of the fear that someone in the audience might be confused (the horror!). They forget that strangeness itself is compelling, and that you’ll usually find familiarity in a story so long as it compels you to look for it (a point Drew Magary makes beautifully
Rightly-acclaimed actor Matthias Schoenaerts plays the lead, Jacky Vanmarsenille, a puffed-up Flemish beef gangster, as ‘roided up as the cattle he trades and whose past has left him a bit, shall we say, stunted. (I hate it when asshole writers play coy like this, but I don’t want to spoil the most memorable scene, which is unforgettable). Jacky is violent and prone to racial and homophobic slurs, but even through Schoenaerts’ crooked prosthetic nose, lazy eye, and the 66 pounds of muscle he put on for the role (which is not only impressive but makes you wonder if he was a mime before this – that dude on your right is him before he became the guy in the banner image), he practically sweats insecurity and childhood slights. Jacky’s caught up in a deal to supply beef hormones (also the name of my indie band, etc.) to some West Flanders weirdos, who may have just made his life a whole lot more complicated by killing a beef investigator (also your mom’s nickname in high school, etc.). With the head now on from the police, also involved are some shady Walloon car thieves, a gay informant, a deranged, wanking-obsessed simpleton, and the big-breasted perfume-store clerk whom Jacky’s been pining after since childhood. If it sounds like Snatch or Lock Stock, it kind of is, but without all the mood music and slow motion and showy camera work (and to be fair, perhaps a bit less fun).
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