Movie Breakdown: Borgman (Noah)

June 4, 2014


People are doing traditional-style reviews all over the web, so we decided to try something different.  In each “breakdown” we’ll take a look at what a film’s marketing lead us to believe, how the movie actually played, and then what we learned from it all.  Read on!

The Impression:

The Dutch have been on a bit of a tear lately with their films, so this, a movie that has simultaneously baffled and amazed critics, seems like a pretty good bet for amazing.

The Reality:

Borgman is some kind of brain hump. Director Alex van Warmerdam has created a movie completely in opposition to the modern film’s insistence that each and every moment of a story has to be explained and prefaced. Instead, Borgman just starts with a trio of dudes with axes and spears and guns hunting down another trio of men who, for some reason, are living underneath the ground. I’d say more about the story, but it would it take away from the sheer enjoyment of watching this weird little knot unravel. Also, the film van Warmerdam has put together doesn’t exactly beg for easy explanation. I keep writing and rewriting various explanations for the film, but all of them seem to give away too much. This is a film about a man who goes to live with a family in a big, beautiful modern house somewhere in the country. A whole lot of shit happens. Really, really weird shit. And even if I can’t, or won’t explain the story, this is a particularly great film. It’s got that cold, weird Dutch feeling to it where everything is simple and attractive, but rife with secret meaning. van Warmerdam has no issue taking his time, slowly pulling the layers off, unveiling just enough of the characters to make each batshit crazy moment resonate down deep. I found myself at so many points in this film questioning out loud, “where the hell is this movie going?” – a question that in today’s formulaic cinema has become a rare one. I didn’t walk away from Borgman with any sort of new outlook on the universe, but I came away stunned by the originality at play and the director’s refusal to easily show his hand. Perhaps not a film for everyone, but for those who take the risk, the reward is very well worth it.

The Lesson:

Don’t let people into your house who want to take baths. Even if it’s your family members. You know, especially if it isn’t your family members.

Borgman opens in select cities on June 6.


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