Thursday, 9 June 2016

The Ardennes (D’ardennen)

Described as a breath of fresh air by the Belgium film industry following two ‘serious’ short films, one about the drug scene in Antwerp and another about football hooliganism Robin Pront has directed and written his first feature film.  Set in Antwerp The Ardennes (2015) is a chilling piece of cinema. The movie is a study of man’s brutality seen through the actions of two brothers and their associates.

After a robbery that went wrong Kenny (Kevin Jassens) receives a prison sentence but his brother Dave (Jeroen Perceval) was never caught. Released from prison after serving four years Kenny finds that things in the outside world have changed. Dave has kept to the straight and narrow, found him self a permanent job cleaning cars and wants to settle down with his girlfriend Sylvie (Veerle Baetens) who is pregnant with their first child. But the problem is Sylvie was originally Kenny’s girlfriend before he went into prison and he wants to pick up where he left off but has no idea about her relationship with his brother. Kenny is a jealous man who solves problems with violence, a man that can snap without notice, and he suspects that Sylvie is having an affair with someone but has no idea who. Both Dave and Sylvie are scared to tell the ultraviolent brother about their plans for the future.
Kevin Jassens and Veele Baetens.

The film gradually turns darker and bloodier following a chain of events that underlines how Kenny’s uncontrollable temper and paranoia drives his ‘insanity’ into even more ultra violent conclusions which affects everyone with in his sphere.  This Cain and Abel story packs a really powerful punch and brings to mind another dynamically violent Belgium movie debut Michael Roskams Rundskop (Bullhead) 2011 which also featured Jeroen Perceval.  A great movie, well-photographed and produced but might not appeal to everyone as the violence can be quite gross at times.

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