Bullhead is a refreshingly unpredictable film from Belgium about illegal hormone beef trading. At least, that’s what it seems like at first. (Hey, I said it was unpredictable, didn’t I?) Though it may at first feel like a twisty underworld drama like other foreign classics of late like Animal Kingdom and A Prophet, what it actually becomes is a big fat Greek tragedy with some nice undertones of nothing less than fucking Frankenstein mixed in.
In the film, written and directed by Michael R. Roskam, we follow corrupt Limburg, Belgium farmer (who are clearly the most terrifying of the farm community) Jacky as he makes a deal with the West Flanders gangster Marc Decuyper. But the cautious Jacky’s having second thoughts about the deal as it’s looking more and more like Decuyper had a hand in the well-pubicized murder of an undercover cop who was investigating the beef hormone underworld.
These new dealings bring Jacky’s childhood friend Diederik back into his life, who was a witness to the horrifying trauma that haunts Jacky’s existence to this day. Old wounds being opened once again from Diederik’s reappearance and the fact that Diederik is a police informer threaten to blow Jacky’s life all to hell, and thankfully for the blood-thirsty audience, shit blows up something terrible.
Because there’s a pretty fucking great revelation in the first half of the film, the Nerd doesn’t want to get too deep into spoiler territory with Bullhead. Though because of that fact this will have to be a regrettably short review, what I can say about the film is that it features a great performance from Matthias Schoenaerts as Jacky, a haunted man whose scars are more than emotional, and a screenplay that left me guessing until an ending that felt like classic, Sophocles-style horrible fate. A film about masculinity, our primal natures, and the sins of the past affecting the present, Bullhead is one beast of a movie that doesn’t need any hormone injections. (My inner Gene Shalit rears his frizzy, mustachioed head once again!)