A priest and his companion hunt silently through the fields, accompanied by a braying dog. They are armed and deadly. Their quarry is Camiel Borgman (Jan Bijvoet), living in military sparseness in an underground den, near companions Ludwig and Pascal. Camiel scrapes out with some difficulty, hitching a ride with a doomed truck driver on a relentless trip to the heart of suburbia. He passes by two odd women, Brenda and Ilonka, with whom he seems to share a history. When a dirty Camiel arrives at the door of artist Marina and media executive Richard's expansive, designer-chic home, the shifting perceptions of Van Warmerdam's screenplay begin to displace and disorient the audience. Hallucinogenic elements dot the consciousness as Camiel shifts between the roles of victim and aggressor. He asks for a bath. He toys with Richard's jealousy. He is viciously beaten up by his cruelly intolerant host and left wounded on the floor. Marina seeks to assuage her guilt by allowing him a space for ...Written by
Borgman is queer piece of cinema, challenging right form the off with the opening scenes of pursuit which point in a certain direction, but be prepared for your feelings to change as the story progresses. Writer / director Alex van Warmerdam's film bars very few holds, and yet it does not sensationalise increasingly troubling and occasionally brutal events, presenting them in a frank and open way, inviting the viewer to judge the participants and their respective fates. You would do well to prepare yourself to feel little sympathy for any of the characters, and yet there is something compelling about the spartan direction and the economy of the performances that will hold your attention to the end. Jan Bijvoet as the titular Camiel Borgman and Hadewych Minis as Marina are stand-outs, and deserve to be seen by a wider audience. One possible conclusion is that Warmerdam's script presents a black-and-white position in reaching a verdict, but in reality there are Lynchian levels of grey and plenty of scope for interpretation over a glass of wine (or two) afterwards. Well worth seeking out for those of a less delicate sensibility.
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