Bullhead (or ‘Rundskop’), directed by Michael R Roskam, tells the story of a hormone injecting Limburg cattle farmer named Jacky Vanmarsenille (portrayed by Matthias Schoenaerts) who encounters an offer in a dubious business venture with a notorious beef manufacturer.
The film screened at the Berlin International Film Festival in early 2011, as well as the Beaune Film Festival in France, where it won the Jury Award and Critics Award.
Whilst the synopsis of the film may not completely grab your attention, cast your eye over the key attribute of the main character. Jacky Vanmarsenille is a hormone injecting cattle farmer- and the hormones he injects are into his whole body.
The story of scrupulous dealings that don’t go right is really just a side story to that of Jacky’s physical and mental well being.
It is difficult to explain Matthias Schoenaerts portrayal of Jacky. I kept thinking back to the film’s title and genuinely found myself thinking that Matthias actually throughout the film encapsulates the ominous figure of a bull.
There he is with this sheer vast shoulders, the way he hovers over the other characters in the film, his dead eyes and expressionless face, like a bull staring down a matador’s cape.
Matthias’ performance is mesmerising. The way he walks, or rather lumbers along, says so much about the the physical and mental scars the character has been carrying since childhood.
The only reason to see this film is for the performance of Matthias Schoenaerts. At any moment it looks as though he would rip your head off, or headbutt you into the ground. His presence on-screen is over powering and he genuinely cuts an imposing and potential violent figure.
This film may never receive a wide release in cinemas nationally, and so the power of this performance will sadly only be appreciated by those lucky enough to have been at the Berlin International Film Festival or Beaune Film Festival.
The entire film has a sense of dread hanging over it, and scenes are shot with blurred or crisp imaging that heightens the physical attributes of the landscape and Matthias. If you ever come across this film released at your local film festival, or on DVD, then I highly recommend it.