CHANNEL 4 4SEVEN E4 MORE4 FILM4 4MUSIC 4oD

Viewing your Watchlist and recommended content requires Javascript

  • 15
  • Crime, Drama
  • 2011
  • 124 mins

Bullhead

Bullhead

Synopsis

Oscar-nominated Belgian crime thriller. A cattle farmer (Matthias Schoenaerts), haunted by an emasculating childhood trauma, becomes embroiled with the local animal hormone mafia.

About

Marion Cotillard's Rust and Bone co-star, Matthias Schoenaerts, confirms his star quality and sports a similarly pumped-up physique in this earlier film, made in his native Belgium. The difference here is that his character's muscles are achieved not through a boxer's training, but with the help of a chemical cocktail – drugs he's been taking since a childhood attack robbed him of his testosterone-fuelled masculinity. Ironically, farmer Schoenaerts is also pumping his cattle full of drugs, in order to fatten them quicker. He's worried, however, that a proposed deal with a dodgy vet and a slimy beef trader will compromise his beastly business, especially given the unwelcome 'heat' generated by the recent shooting of an investigating policeman. In the meantime, a chance encounter with a childhood friend dredges up memories of the incident that robbed him of his manhood.

Played more nimbly, and with a sharper eye for its black comic elements, writer-director Michaël R. Roskam's over-plotted, over-cooked drama might have succeeded in blending human tragedy and oblique humour. Instead, its complicated skeletal frame has trouble supporting the dramatic weight imposed upon it. The parallels between the hormone-enhanced cattle and Schoenaerts' bullheaded beast are laboured, the storyline plods when it should gambol, and the sludgy brown and green palette – while appropriate to the bucolic setting – sucks the life out of the gloomy landscapes and murky crime drama. Worst of all are Schoenaerts' clumsy, ill-fated attempts to woo his childhood sweetheart and re-write the life-defining trauma of his lost masculinity, which utterly fails to tread the fine line between fatalistic inevitability and melodramatic predictability.

Cast & Connections

  • Actor: Matthias Schoenaerts, Jeanne Dandoy, Jeroen Perceval
  • Director: Michael R Roskam
  • Screen Writer: Michael R Roskam

In a nutshell

A bovine crime drama that confirms breakout Belgian Matthias Schoenaerts' star quality.

by Nigel Floyd

Latest from Film4...

  • Film4 Win Win

    Win Win

    Paul Giamatti stars as a struggling lawyer and volunteer wrestling coach who takes in his client's troubled grandson

    On Film4: 2 Dec 1:45AM

  • Film4 The Drop

    The Drop

    Tom Hardy, James Gandolfini and Noomi Rapace star in a feature-length adaptation of a short crime story by Dennis Lehane (Mystic River, Shutter Island), directed by Belgian filmmaker Michael R. Roskam (Bullhead)

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Joe Cunningham's 11 recommendations for LFF 14

    Unfortunately I haven¿t been jet setting around the world this year to the various exciting international film festivals, but that¿s what makes the London Film Festival¿s compilation approach to progr

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Michael Leader's 11 recommendations for LFF 2014

    One of the best things about the London Film Festival¿s smorgasbord approach to programming is that, amongst the world premieres and gala screenings, there¿s an eclectic collection of exciting films o

Register with Film4.com

Personalise your Film4 experience

  • Set film reminders
  • Build your watchlist
  • Get film suggestions

or Register

Tweets @Film4

  • @marcjo75 Hi Marc. Glad you enjoyed what you saw! You can catch the end on 4oD right here: http://t.co/lFjXp9b0VP

  • @itsHamzah No need to worry, it's on 4oD! http://t.co/lFjXp9b0VP

  • @wckdstiles24 Hi Lauren - looks like Wild Bill's on Netflix and Hulu Plus in the States. It's also available on DVD, too!

  • If you didn't know, the Best Story Oscar was phased out in 1957 in favour of Best Original Screenplay. The last winner? The Brave One.

  • The Greatest Show On Earth won 2 Oscars in 1952: Best Picture & Best Story. #OscarTally

Share