*THE OFFICIAL BETTER THAN JUNO SEAL*
I'm terrible disappointed by this Belgian film, called Rundskop in it's native tongue. Bullhead is wasted potential at it's finest. It features dazzling cinematography, a outstanding performance from Matthias Schoenaerts, and it's a great character study... So how could this film fail? Well, it's the other things that make this film hard to bear. It's such a shame too considering that this had so many great things going for it.
Bullhead, or Rundskop, is about cattle farmer Jacky Vanmarsenille, who had a traumatic experience which I wouldn't wish upon my worst enemy, when he was a kid. As a result, he has to pump himself up with steroids in order to produce testosterone. He's also in the middle of a "business" deal of selling steroid infested cows to the Meat Mafia (lol, they sure do make gangs out of anything). Meanwhile, the Meat Mafiosos have just murdered a cop, and it puts them under heavy watch, with Jacky as a suspect, even though he didn't have anything to do with it. Enter an undercover cop, who is gay, and turns out to be Jacky's childhood friend, and we have the basic premise.... oh, and Jacky falls in love with a chick. There lies the first problem. The film's plotting is rather all over the place and it affects what's going on.
Plot points are randomly thrown in, such as the gay undercover cop's relationship. It felt very forced and out of place. And then, the plot point is just dropped off entirely as if nothing happened. Okay, explain to me what was the point? Well, there is a pretty funny one-liner later on in the film, which Jacky does say. "You're not a faggot, are you?" But that isn't enough to justify this random plot point.
Bullhead especially fails in the flashbacks, which shows Jacky's traumatic experience. However, rather than being disturbing, it feels very unintentionally funny. I won't discuss what happened. Just know it is a terrible fate. However, it's poorly handled, and since I'm not very understanding of Belgium's youth, I didn't feel like it was realistic...
Where this film does shine is in the acting department! Matthias Schoenaerts is enough to justify watching this film as he just envelopes this role. He plays Jacky with subtle grace and poignancy that it helps you feel more sorrow to the character. Also, Jacky himself is a great character! He reminds me of a more talkative version of the Driver, but he actually shows real pain through his eyes. Not just staring into space, like Gosling does.
Then, there's the beautiful cinematography. It infuses the bleak, dry landscape of Belgium with the colorful blue feel of the night clubs. It's an amazingly shot film. That plays to the film's advantage as I was getting bored with the narrative, I tried to find something much better within this film. It's a shame that Michael R. Roskam's screenplay could not match his directing talent.
Overall, Schoenaerts deserved a better film than this disappointing, hollow mess. Him, along with Roskam's excellent camerawork, are the only positives about this film. Many plot points are introduced... Then forgotten. It also has a very serious tone, which might turn off viewers, considering the premise is more reminiscent of a Tarantino or Ritchie film. I mean, it does. It's a silly premise and moments in the film do remind me of Snatch. However, the film takes it with a serious tone. I can only recommend it for Schoenaerts alone. Watch the film for his performance... He deserved better.