April 25th: It is pretty weird in Belgium.


93. Calvaire (Fabrice Du Welz, 2004)

Belgium is not a prolific producer of cinema, especially not films that break onto the international scene. Calvaire (called The Ordeal in England) is a rarity in that respect. Consider this a warning though, Calvaire is weird. It only really works, in my mind anyway, as a drawn out metaphor. Marc is a singer from a small town where he seems to have inspired the entire town into obsession. And this is the central theme of the film. As Marc travels to the big city to seek his fame he is forced to stop at an out of the way inn when his van breaks down. The owner of the inn, Bartel, quickly becomes obsessed with Marc and the film quickly becomes a psycho-sexual variant on The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. Marc is chased and hunted by the local villagers who seem to be projections of Bartel’s fractured mind. This is an odd film, the narrative is purposely difficult and this is enhanced by the setting. The rural Belgian woodlands oscillate between dank autumn and frigid snow-blasted winter as the film descends further into madness. If you can stick it out through the bestiality and the dancing then you might enjoy it.

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