06 October 2014

BORGMAN [/Slash Filmfestival 2014]


Netherlands / Belgium / Denmark, 2013
Director: Alex Van Warmerdam


If there was one film at this year's /Slash Filmfestival me and my buddies couldn't stop talking about, then it was "Borgman", the 9th feature of Dutch director / writer / actor Alex van Warmerdam, a rather obscure filmmaker who's working in the film business since the late 70s, but hasn't gained much poularity outside of the Netherlands... so far! Since last year, "Borgman" got lots and lots of praise from arthouse critics AND horror critics, making its festival rounds from one country to the next, which resulted into van Warmerdam's very first
Cannes Palme d'Or nomination - and quite rightly so!

"Borgman" follows a weird and beardy vagrant called Camiel Borgman who infiltrates the life of a wealthy and pretty tasteless family in a way that is simply baffling, fascinating and shocking at the same time. Borgman seem to have mysterious quasi-supernatural powers, is able to hypnotize people and/or to live off their energy, and together with a few strange helpers/followers/family members/whatever, he quickly turns the family's life into a perplexingly
surreal nightmare.

Alex van Warmerdam created an incredible masterpiece that is somehow comparable to David Lynch's works, because: even though I didn't understand it, I loved the hell out of it. "Borgman" feels as if van Warmerdam created a complex but comprehensible story, based on German folklore (the "Alp", Grimm's fairy tales) and biblical elements (archangel Chamuel) - and then, when the story was finished, he seemingly took out several rather important and declarative elements, and turned the 'rest' into this movie. In the hands of an inexperienced filmmaker, the whole thing would have ended as total disaster, but in the hands of van Warmerdam, "Borgman" ended up as stunningly grotesque, incredibly mesmerising and totally unique cinematic puzzle, not comparable to anything
I've ever seen.

The movie possesses a bizarre, but nonetheless hilarious humor that made me ROFL many, many times. From the weird opening where we get to see Borgman and two of his followers living in small burrows somewhere in the woods, to the scene where they turn the family's garden into a complete and utter mess with mini excavators and shit, to the scenes where they kill several people, cement the dead bodies' heads in buckets and throw them headfirst into a lake... yes, it's a massive succession of scenes that make you go WTF?? over and over again. The helpers that seem to be able to shapeshift into greyhounds (or not?), the scene where a little girl unexectedly kills a job candidate, Borgman sitting on the wife's chest, giving her nasty nightmares... hell, I could go on and on and on. One striking and remarkable scene after another.

Next to Van Warmerdam's pitch-perfect direction and terrific screenplay, I also have to praise the marvellous cinematography by Tom Erisman ("Waiter", "Grimm"), the sparse but super-effective music (composed by the director's brother Vincent Van Warmerdam), and the amazing cast, most notably Jan Bijvoet as Borgman himself, Hadewych Minis & Jeroen Perceval as married couple, as well as Tom Dewispelaere, Eva van de Wijdeven, the director himself and his wife Annet Malherbe as Borgman's followers (+ Sara Hjort Ditlevsen and her wonderful boobs ^^).

An extraordinary piece of artsy, amusing and unsettling weirdness. The best Dutch movie since George Sluizer's "Spoorloos". I mean it!

Wiki ~ Imdb

P.S. Posters of the year? Yup, posters of the year.

P.P.S Thanks to Manuel & Leifp for the nice online Borgman discussions :-)


  1. Bloody Hell! I'll never get through my 'must see' list at this rate!

    Love the sound of this one.

    1. Bloody right, but don't worry: I watch all the good stuff, so you don't have to ;)))


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