In this pitch black comedy the rivalry between two neighbors escalates into an all out war. Through a maintenance error on a tractor they both end up, paralyzed, in a wheelchair. It seems th... Read allIn this pitch black comedy the rivalry between two neighbors escalates into an all out war. Through a maintenance error on a tractor they both end up, paralyzed, in a wheelchair. It seems they are doomed to stay together. They no longer focus their rage on each other but on the m... Read allIn this pitch black comedy the rivalry between two neighbors escalates into an all out war. Through a maintenance error on a tractor they both end up, paralyzed, in a wheelchair. It seems they are doomed to stay together. They no longer focus their rage on each other but on the manufacturer of the tractor, in Helsinki. So get ready for a hilarious wheelchair road movi... Read all
A rare combination of real-life drama and black humor, this low-budget film from Belgium is a treat from start to finish. Shot in b/w Scope, almost every frame of this refreshingly original road-movie on wheelchairs seems to contain a delightful comic set-up, greatly enhanced by its grainy 16mm b/w photography.
The film kicks off in a rural area south of Brussels, where Gus and Ben (played by the writer-directors, K/Vern and Delépine) are neighbors. Gus is a farmer and spends most of his time daydreaming on his tractor. Ben is a commuter, who has trouble at his work in the city and with his marriage. Both are very unhappy with their lives but most off all, the two men work on each other's nerves. One day, as Ben hurries to get to work on the small road leading to their house, Gus willfully obstructs the way with his tractor. Ben climbs on Gus' tractor and starts a fight, part of the machinery falls on top of the men and the next day they wake up in the hospital, paralyzed from the waist down. Gus decides to head for Finland in order to claim indemnity from the tractor company, named Aaltra. What follows is a road-movie on wheelchairs through Europe in order to reach their goal.
Part of what makes it all so strangely endearing is the fact that the two men are in a wheelchair, which makes a perfect excuse for some comic situations. Every simple thing they do, from trying to get money or food to innocent remarks made to strangers, becomes hilarious because of the way everyday people tend to react to the disabled. Due to the almost universal belief in the goodness of disabled people in general, Gus and Ben are able to shamelessly take advantage of even the most helpful and friendly persons they encounter. The fact that the two men aren't in the least sympathetic is exactly what gives the film it's edge. They remain malevolent hostile bastards, just as hostile against each other as against the outside world they have to cope with.
Considering it's minimal budget, the cinematography is great. Beautifully shot in grainy black-and-white, with many extreme long shots, many of them without dialog. And K/Vern and Delépine are talented comedians (especially in silent comic expressions), but they somehow managed (or got the right people to do it for them) to give the film a real cinematographic touch. A rare achievement.
Aki Kaurismäki and Benoît Poelvoorde appear in the film in small roles, although the latter is tough to spot. You have to be familiar with his legs or voice to recognize him.
Camera Obscura --- 9/10
- Jun 27, 2006