Who knew when Bullhead screened at Fantastic Fest last year that it would end up being Oscar nominated for Best Foreign Film? Well, Tim League‘s Drafthouse Films knew it was good and decided to acquire the rights to distribute the film in the US and now… BAM! I love Alamo Drafthouse and because of that, I will be rooting for a win come The Oscars on Sunday night. But, that will not be hard to do because it also happens to be pretty damn good movie.
This Belgian drama is written and directed by Michaël R. Roskam and he is definitely one to watch. I am sure some more good stuff will be coming from this guy. He has an interesting style and is capable of creating atmosphere with little dialogue. A little anecdote: During Fantastic Fest we had tickets to watch Bullhead, but decided to attend the only screening of You’re Next (which is awesome & will come out later this year) and my daughter, by chance sat next to Roskam. They started a pleasant conversation in which she mentioned that we were wanting and planning to watch Bullhead, but had switched–Roskam then proceeded to tell her that Bullhead was his movie! He then conceded that it was pretty heavy and intense–which is why he was sitting next to her and not at his own movie screening. :D Pretty funny. Now, he is Oscar nominated–bet he did not see that coming. Nice.
This story covers a lot of ground. Hormone mafia–steroids–police informants–betrayal–bullies–and tragedy. But, the film really works because of its star, Matthias Schoenaerts. Schoenaerts is mesmerizing. You are drawn to his deep sadness–his mental turmoil. It is a strong performance. There a many themes throughout–the most apparent is the comparison of animals and man–and he reminds you of an animal, a bull, to be more direct. A mass of muscle and strength with the potential of great raw power–just standing there…waiting to be unleashed.
My only minor complaint is the time. If it were 30 minutes shorter, it may have been a bit tighter in pacing. It almost seems to have too much time to build and the climate then feels like it loses some of its power. But, that is a personal opinion and it does not take anything away from the film.
Unfortunately, it may not be in a theater near you–so keep your eyes out for rental possibilities. And if you want, go ahead and cheer for it to win the Oscar–it is a worthy choice!