The behaviour of Oliver is incredibly strange. Why is he so jumpy, skittishly peeking in the windows at the new young apprentice? Then running around manically attempting to steal a look yet retreating anytime any real contact is about to occur. Oliver is Oliver Gourmet, the incredibly odd looking actor from The Promise who won best actor at Cannes for this role. With the camera seemingly permanently glued to the back of his skull, these are some of the questions the audience finds themselves asking in this incredibly understated film from the Dardenne brothers, seemingly Belguim’ answer to Ken Loach and Mike Leigh. Their ability to develop a gritty reality probably stems from their past as documentary filmmakers where they realize silence and gentle mannerisms speak volumes, eclipsing dialogue and set pieces. It’s a film about vengeance, portrayed in a way that would make Hollywood gag. This is real filmmaking, honest and unsentimental. There are no character arcs or moments of transcendence despite the power of the subject at hand. The brothers had just come from Rosetta three years earlier, a Palm d’Or winner at Cannes, and there is no doubt they are at the height of their powers. Hand held, closely framed this is a claustrophobic tale of a man’s attempts to move beyond his grief and sorrow. It’s simultaneously powerful and low key. It’s filmmaking like we’ve never experienced before.
There’ a great interview with the directors as they meticulously take the viewer through their process, demonstrating the amount of preparation that goes into creating cinema that seems so realistic. It also demonstrates how difficult they would be to work with as they emphasise the time they take to make decisions. There’ also an incredibly in depth interview with the lead actor Gourmet who discusses how the film was developed specifically for him and how he initially met the Dardenne’. There’ also a stills gallery and some other directors suite previews.
-Bob Baker Fish