directed by Michael R Roskam
Though I was happy with A Separation winning the 2012 Oscar for Best Foreign Film, I was pulling for Michael R Roskam’s tough and wonderful Bullhead, starring the tremendous Matthias Schoenaerts. Schoenaerts bulked up in Tom Hardian fashion for his role as Jacky (he built up nearly 60 pounds of shit kicking muscle!), a cattle farmer hooked on industrial grade growth hormones and brimming over with tear you apart rage. Jacky is also a man awash in the depths of traumatic scars and a mutilated sense of identity. Roskam makes the misstep of adding a criminal slash thriller plotline (illegal cattle hormones and meat trading, cop killing) that only serves to pad and muddy the true core burning at the center of this film, but Schoenaerts will make a believer out of you. The heart of this film resides in Jacky’s dark battle with his past, his demons, and himself, and we find in Jacky a penned and cornered thing, an animal for whom the world is a skulking, menacing predator. Whether he’s boxing his adrenaline away in a bathroom, or stomping the life out of someone, or simply glaring into a distance most of us will never have the eyes to perceive, Schoenaerts is a tectonic force that will get inside you. Nicolas Karakatsanis is a wonder as cinematographer, bringing us the gloom of this world in rich, sepic tones. Is this a perfect film? No, but with a core cutting performance from Schoenaerts and a credible Jeroen Perceval as his estranged friend, Bullhead casts a bruising spell over you in strange ways.