03 July 2015



Original Title:
De Behandeling

Belgium, 2014
Director: Hans Herbots


Watching a Belgium film that deals with pedophilia is like watching an Austrian film that deals with cellars: it's unpleasant and slightly bothersome - but if done by a talented and intelligent filmmaker, such a film can also be gripping and fascinating, like "The Treatment", the fifth feature of Belgian director Hans Herbots, based on the British bestselling novel of the same name by Mo Hayder.

"The Treatment" follows solitary police officer Nick Cafmeyer who investigates in a weird case where a mother and father have been bound and beaten, and their young son is missing. His investigations lead him to similar cases that happened in the past, brutal tragedies where the parents were forced by a cold-blooded psychopath to harm and abuse their own children, who then vanish - as well as to his own childhood when he witnessed the kidnapping of his very own brother. Cafmeyer becomes more and more obsessed with the investigation, sinking deeper and deeper into a swamp of secrets, lies, violence and pedophilia...

Hell, it's a great year for dark, gritty thrillers! After "The Frozen Ground" and "Marshland", this is now the third absolutely amazing thriller I've seen this year. A masterfully directed, excellently paced and stunningly developed shocker, deeply intriguing, at times highly unsettling and maybe even a bit disturbing. Although more than 130 minutes long, it's never dull or boring, thanks to Herbots' impressive sense of detail and visual storytelling that slightly reminded me of the "Millennium trilogy", the works of David Fincher and Denis Villeneuve's "Prisoners". I'm not sure if Herbots was inspired by these films, but if he was, I have to praise him even more, because instead of copying or stealing from these films, he seem to have picked out various elements and characteristics, and made them his very own.

The screenplay is equally amazing, packed with unpredictable and astonishing twists, turns and surprises. At no time, I was able to foresee any of the events, especially not the ending which is so unexpectedly bleak and depressing, I was gobsmacked. Main actor Geert van Rampelberg, who was already terrific in the Oscar-nominated Dutch masterpiece "The Broken Circle Breakdown", delivers what I'd call the performance of a lifetime. He's so unbelievably believable, delivering a fantastic character with many rough edges and flaws, with a fucked up past, the liability to workaholism and a big, big heart. I loved Inspector Cafmeyer so much, I wanted to hug him all the time :)

There's more superb acting by Ina Geerts (splendind actress with a remarkable face), Dominique Van Malder (scary as hell), Laura Verlinden (very gorgeous), Johan Van Assche (there's something really eerie about him), Tibo Vandenborre (reminded me of Steve Buscemi) or Ingrid De Vos for whatever reason, she reminded me of Nelly Frijda). A subtle, yet effective score accompanies the whole scenery. Editing and camera work are pitch-perfect, lots of dark, Fincher-esque images, scenes and settings.

The only thing about it that is critizable is the solving of the mystery. Like Imdb-reviewer Dries Vermuelen said, it's "a little far-fetched, going as far as raising an unintended smile", but since everything else about "The Treatment" is so fucking great, this minor, minor flaw doesn't do any harm.

Sick of bad movies? "The Treatment" will cure you, I promise ;)

Thanks to Ray (Artsploitation) for the screener!

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