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Borgman is the central character in Alex van Warmerdam’s dark, malevolent fable. Is he a dream or a demon, a twisted allegory or an all-too-real embodiment of our fears? Borgman is a sinister arrival in the sealed-off streets of modern suburbia. His presence unleashes a crowing gallery of distortion around the careful façade constructed by an arrogant, comfortable couple, their three children and nanny.
Van Warmerdam is my favourite Dutch director. He makes films that are quintessentially Dutch in their tone and touches upon Dutch sensibilities with confounding and intriguing absurdism.
Borgman is a step away from that in so far that this is a more universally themed film, but it is still imbued in that trademark van Warmerdam style. It is a film that is very difficult to grasp and I feel attempting to make sense of it is missing the point. This is a visually striking mood piece, focused more on conveying a sensation rather than recounting a story.
Borgman is about evil. Evil we, adults, call upon ourselves, invite into our homes, driving our self centred lives. As heavy as this…
Twenty-second watch of March around the World: Netherlands. And so this challenge, although officially closed by now, brings me to my home country. I haven’t seen a Dutch film since 2010 - the absolute must-watch recommendation to all of you: New Kids Turbo. The advertisement of Borgman - “what if Dogtooth had been directed by Michael Haneke?" - is rather enticing though, so that was something to check out. My good grief, I had no idea such a brilliant piece of cinema could come from my country. First scene? Took me by surprise. The titular antagonist Borgman is chased out of his underground burrow (a common style of living here in the Netherlands) to an high-class residential area where he starts ringing doors, asking the inhabitants whether he could have a bath in their house. What happens next is indescribable, but stellar. I mean, how satisfying is this?
Borgman is a very playful, intriguing and exciting piece of film from the Dutch veteran Alex van Warmerdam (starring in a smaller role as well, as he usually does).
Borgman flings us into the action with a riveting chase between a priest and his lackeys and a group of men hiding underneath the forest soil.
One of these men turn out to be Camiel Borgman.
After Borgman warns his compatriots of the impending danger, himself having barely managed to escape, he enters a fashionable slice of suburbia and tests the inhabitants' will to let an unknown, unkempt man have a bath.
After instigating an altercation with the man of one of the houses, he manages to instill a bit of…
“And they descended upon the earth to strengthen their ranks.”
With the utmost confidence and command, Alex van Warmerdam's Borgman opening scene sunk it's hooks in deep and refused to let me go for the remainder of it's running time. A Priest and a lynch mob of sorts hunt down a nest of (literal) underground vagrants and send them scampering for safety out of the woods and into palatial suburbia, and from this dizzying and disorienting (and one of the most exhilarating cinematic moments I have experience of late) set-piece we are flung into the world of the sly and seductive Camiel Borgman.
A film that would seemingly fall into the expanding 'home invasion' subgenre of cinema, Borgman eschews categorization…
I don't want to say too much about Borgman if you're going to watch it, because it's the strange kind of film that's best to go into somewhat cold. I will say though that it's a deeply dark and downright unpleasant work of cinema filled to the brim with enormously flawed and unstable characters that angered me to my very core. Of course, this was the director's intention.
One might think the primary theme of this film is betrayal, but I would argue that the amount of manipulation that this film contains - manipulation sometimes bordering on the point of mind control - overshadows the betrayal and sort of renders it void. There were times when I felt certain characters…
“And they descended upon the earth to strengthen their ranks,” reads the Biblical quote at the start of beginning of the film. Along with only one or two other clues that possibly link together, this quietly unnerving Palme d'Or nominee from Alex van Warmerdam is a tale without true definition. A dark comedic and surreal look at evil that asks you to decide who is more deserving of their crimes.
Two men arrive at the residence of their local priest, weapons in hand and armed with intent. No words are spoken as the priest joins their charge into the local forest axe held firmly in his hand. They know exactly where they are heading, stopping in an area where they…
It creeps in with dead silence, tears the illusions, lifts the curtains, dismantles the perfect garden and leaves with nothing but ashes left behind. It was ever present inside the roots, always lurking in shadows, lingering in the silence between verbal brawls and hiding in the spaces between all those unsaid words. It’s laughing fits were suppressed in the clinks of champagne toasts and presence concealed in high end mannerisms of upper cultures. It’s betrayal, failure, disappointments, nightmares and lust, all roll balled into one devilish persona: Camile Borgman.
There is absolutely no direction to which Borgman points. Neither the beginning mattered, nor the end. There is not a single shred of explanation in its narrative and this is exactly…
I'm not sure what to make of Borgman yet, but for all, I know it was a deeply unsettling experience. It reminded me of Dogtooth especially. The story had a Lynchian atmosphere that was a complete surprise for me. I went in blinded and came out of this film confused. Do not read anything about the film prior to seeing it, that is the best way to experience it.
What a stunning performance from Jan Bijvoet...
This Cannes Competition entry is wonderfully executed, and provides us with more questions than answers, but the apparent associations are from german mythology, the character names, Siegfried Saga, the Alp, combined with some Sci-Fi elements.
Just how I like my Dutch films...dark, unsettling, and kinda funny!
One of the most dark and bizzarre films I have ever seen, this film is the work of the devil.
This is a strange, strange movie. I didn't know whether to laugh or be creeped out at times. I'm still trying to figure out all the ins and outs of this movie. Definitely recommendable, just don't go expecting to come out of this knowing exactly what you watched.
I had no clue what to expect going into this, and I was pleasantly surprised. A unique, mesmerizing film filled with brilliant characters and philosophical depth. The first half far outshines the second half, but that isn't any fault of the second half.. the first half is just really good. A lot of the imagery stuck in my head days after I saw it.
An original and uncompromising work of WTF? cinema that is not only one of the strangest films ever made and an extremely entertaining Midnight Madness film, but a beautifully filmed and extremely well-done destruction of post-modernistic society and faux family units. 8/10.
***EDIT (March 30, 2014)***
Wow! I never would have expected that I'd get anywhere close to 100 likes on this…
Originally a list made prior to Cannes 2014, now updated every mid-April.
This is every Palme d'Or nominee since the…