When you think of the meat industry, it’s quite possible that open pastures, hay, and cows are the first things that come to mind. This is a commonplace assumption. But would you make the correlation between the meat industry and corruption, active police investigations, and mob-like actions? After watching Bullhead (foreign title: Rundskop), you will.
Jacky Vanmarsenille is an intensely formidable cattle farmer who is asked to tag along with his veterinarian as he sets up a deal to supply a big time beef trader with hormones.
The movie starts off with a voiceover from Jacky about how at the end of the day (or week; month; year) you’re doomed, as picturesque countryside graces the screen. This immediate narration establishes this multifaceted drama’s aura. Quickly, however, you see the ferocity that Jacky can unleash on those that do not play right in his field. Jacky’s first case of intimidating lesser men sets the tone of him being the steer that he is, and he shows his role as dominating man towards every other male in the movie. A flashback showing a tragic event in Jacky’s youth not only helps viewers understand the man that he is (and why he does the things he does), but also helps to explain 20 year-old relationships that were literally rocked and reformed in the present.
This movie reminded me of Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels and of Snatch – both films rampant with different activities of criminality that lend themselves to solid development. More is revealed of characters after first appearances, which kept me fixated on the screen. Between cops, an undercover informant, two mechanics, and a counter girl there are several sub stories, which incorporate seamlessly into the story of Jacky. If you do not dive into foreign films regularly, then they can seem more intense than what comes out of Hollywood. The supporting cast does not have the perfect body, perfect hair that you will see from Tinseltown flicks, but that does not mean the supporting cast cannot act with finesse that draws you in. Matthias Schoenaerts, who plays Jacky, charges into the role. Schoenaerts displays to the viewer that Jacky is more raging animal than gentle giant. His performance is beyond impressive, and consumes every scene in which he appears.
Bullhead will be playing at Alamo Drafthouse Lake Creek Parkway, Village and South Lamar starting February 17. Bullhead is nominated for an Oscar in the Foreign Language Film category. The 84th annual Academy Awards take place February 26th.