The directorial debut of Michael Roskam was made with the film Bullhead. It has has received both critical acclaim and a positive reception from audiences. The film has led him to be featured on a list of potentially great directors by the magazine, Variety. It is not just Mr Roskam who is of note in the film and it is said that the star of the film, Matthias Schoenaerts, has received some interest from Hollywood.
All of this acclaim for a small Belgian film is great but the real honour has been the nomination for an Academy Award in the best foreign film category. From the moment the film begins, you realise that you are probably in for something rather special. This film manages to be both profound and have deep themes as well as managing to portray them in a very delicate way.
Mr Schoenaerts reportedly gained over 25 kilograms of muscle to play the role but it is not just this that makes his performance impressive. The look in his eyes, as well as the various tics of his character, are very impressively done. His character seems complete and fully developed and is a testament to his skills as an actor.
The film unfolds at a fast pace and there is not a dull moment in the whole production. As the tragedy escalates you get drawn deeper into it and the final part of the film is a stunning piece of cinema. When you combine the outstanding camera work with the powerful acting you really have an experience that feels almost hallucinatory.
It is not just this final scene where the camera work is spectacular and throughout the entire film the flashes of imagery and quick montages add a huge amount of power to the production. The music in the film is also very well chosen and adds a great deal of powerful emotion to it.
This film is definitely not without faults and there are certain moments where it won’t appeal to people who don’t have an experience of French cinema. French comedy is something that is an acquired taste and if you are not used to it you might find moments of the film quite strange.
When you first start watching Bullhead you might consider it as a typical gangster film, but there is a deeper story involved that you will become aware of as it progresses. The film doesn’t just touch on one story however, and there are many themes running throughout and they weave an intricate pattern.
The narrative of the film creates a strong impression with the viewer and this is supported by incredible visuals. This film has an outstanding way of balancing immense power with fragility, as it is a film that explores human feeling in a way like no other. It looks at the border between what makes someone human and separate from the beasts. There is much more to Bullhead than first meets the eye.