BULLHEAD (2011)


The Belgium entry in the 2011 Oscar race, about a man who was castrated as a kid and his present day involvement in illegal hormone trafficking of cattle. The basic idea, that of two childhood friends who end up on opposite sides of the law, is nothing new (Manhattan Melodrama is one of the earliest examples of this plot line). But that doesn’t stop this version from being riveting. What ties it all together is a bull (pun intended) of a performance by the lead Matthias Schoenaerts, who dominates the screen and makes his unlikeable character both fascinating and sympathetic. One does become emotionally involved in his plight and the ending brings an unexpected tear to the eye. The plot could be tighter; written by Michael R. Roskam, who also directed, it treats a subplot, the murder of a police officer, as a major story line rather than a maguffin, which results at times in its getting in the way of the Schoenaerts story.
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