by on Dec.19, 2009, under Daily Review

Calvaire, UK title ‘The Ordeal’. This is a close description of what is forced upon a young singer, looking for fortune and fame, Marc Stevens (Laurent Lucas). Leaving his home town, he sets off to take his act to the big city, losing his way on the country roads; his van breaks down and is met by calvaire2some strange but helpful rural living folk. Bartel (Jackie Berroyer) offers a room for the night and gets to work o fixing the van. The next day, Marc realises he’s stumbled onto a strange community of males who soon mistake him as Boris’ lost wife, Gloria and lover to local village leader Rob Orton (Philippe Nahon). It’s a brutal situation to be in with some nasty beatings, dressed in a frock, nailed to a fence and raped by crazy inbreeds. Horrific.

It’s beautifully filmed with dynamic cinematography care of Benoit Debie, which sets the Belgian countryside off with a cold wintery chill, you actually feel like you’re there with Marc and can truly feel his anguish. A scene in the local Inn also harnesses this feeling of closeness as the village males hug and dance together to a crazed piano composition; you actually feel like you need to push them away. With the claustrophobia.

Philippe Nahon is brilliant as always, notable for his role as The Butcher in Noé’s ‘Seul Contre Tous’, here offers an equally memorable performance. Lucas is believable and emotional in his role which is traumatic viewing.

It’s a great film which takes influences from Deliverance, Last House, Straw Dogs etc in that crazed local derangement destroys the life on an innocent through misfortune and wrong place at the wrong time. Captivating to watch due to it’s quirkiness and somewhat black comedy script. I love the crazy bloke looking for his dog in the woods, and happy late in the film when he mistakes a calf for his Belle. It’s also good to see Brigitte Lahaie take some brief screen time. Director Fabri Du Welz is yet another young director to look out for future work.


2 Comments for this entry

  • Helen

    Really enjoyed this intesely creepy film – despite the highly ambiguous ending! The mad ‘penguin dance’ as i call it by the villagers will stay with for a while & is as scene which i think should become notorious. I think it works so well as these men seeem totally without compassion & feeling in all other respects & so to see them dancing together seems wrong on many levels.

  • Geoff

    Hi Helen. You wouldn’t believe how glad I am that you watched this film. It’s a real jem which requires much more recognition. Genius of a movie with great characters in a shocking scenario. Why arn’t all films this good?:)

    Thanks again

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