Borgman

***

Reviewed by: Richard Mowe

"The director's uncompromising approach and rigour pulls us along at least until the half way point when the pace begins to falter and its lack of obvious intentions starts to grate."

As it's the first Dutch feature in the Cannes Competition in almost 40 years, hopes were riding high for writer-director Alex van Warmerdam's dark trawl through the murky depths of the middle classes under attack from a group of motley intruders.

It has the surreal and dark feel of early Buñuel films right from the start when a priest and two other armed men stalk the woods where Borgman (played by Jan Bijvoet) has taken refuge in a makeshift underground hideout. He escapes and warns his cohorts in similar dug-outs to flee as well.

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Regrouping, they turn their attention to a residential neighbourhood, in particular the contemporary home of businessman Richard (Jeroen Pereval), wife Marina (Hadewych Minis) and their children. Gradually they infiltrate their way in to the household - Borgman insinuates himself in to the affections of Marina, the Danish nanny (Sara Hjort Ditlevsen) and the children and chillingly takes over their minds, making them pliantly docile in the process.

Soon the satanic disciples are undermining bourgeous complacency with a vengeance, upturning the garden in to a wild arena for their games after the original gardener has been gruesomely dispatched. The husband, revealed as a macho racist, also gets his comeuppance.

The director's uncompromising approach and rigour pulls us along at least until the half way point when the pace begins to falter and its lack of obvious intentions starts to grate. Still Van Warnerdam marks himself out as a film-maker of originality and vision even if he doesn't always follow through the ideas he sets up.

The verdant and sunny surroundings help to counterpoint the evil afoot in a way that is all the more unsettling for its veneer of normality.

Reviewed on: 20 May 2013
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The Devil moves into a suburban street and turns the lives of its inhabitants upside-down.

Director: Alex van Warmerdam

Writer: Alex van Warmerdam

Starring: Jan Bijvoet, Hadewych Minis, Jeroen Perceval

Year: 2013

Runtime: 113 minutes

Country: Netherlands


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