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Review: Bullhead

Michael R. Roskam's debut feature
By BRETT MICHEL  |  February 22, 2012
3.0 3.0 Stars

"I haven't got what I'm supposed to have," laments Jacky Vanmarsenille (Matthias Schoenaerts), and boy, he ain't kidding. What this cattle farmer at the center of talented writer/director Michael R. Roskam's debut feature – Belgium's foreign-language Oscar nominee – lacks, he tries to make up for with steroids. Having treated his own cattle with growth-enhancement hormones, Jacky is determined to transform himself as well. And Schoenaerts makes the transformation convincing, recalling the similarly damaged individual that Tom Hardy played in Bronson. Like Hardy's 'roid-raging protagonist, Jacky butts heads with nearly everyone, but the horrific event that breaks him builds more empathy than do Bronson's theatrics. When Jacky's dealings with the "hormone mafia" find him face-to-face with childhood pal Diederik Maes (Jeroen Perceval), his tragic history catches up. As Jacky says, "No matter how long ago it was . . . you're always fucked."

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