Action hunk Jean-Claude Van Damme, who hasn't had a US theatrical release in years, found a more creative venue than Celebrity Rehab in which to seek redemption. The actor plays a partly fictionalized version of himself in Mabrouk El Mechri's comic but poignant JCVD.
Bitter over his rejection by Hollywood and bruised by a child-custody battle, the star returns to Belgium to lick his wounds chez maman-papa. Biography and filmography collide as the jet-lagged Jean-Claude gets mixed up in the kind of hostage drama that one of his characters would resolve with a series of spinning kicks. The irony of his real-life powerlessness sends the screen hero into a dark night of the soul.
The focus here is more on the bags under Van Damme's eyes than the bulges in his biceps — and he gives a compelling performance. Meanwhile, El Mechri paints Brussels in the drained tones of a dystopian sci-fi movie, and punctuates his meditation on fame with a trippy jazz/soul score.
[French + English] 96 minutes | Kendall Square