This film is being promoted as a dark comedy. I don't see it that way and I don't believe I am deficit in funny bone matter. I never once even smiled, let alone laughed. I more aptly described it as absurdist. And this is based on there being no sense or motivation or logic in the main character's and his cohorts' cold-blooded deeds. That is not to say the film lacks cohesiveness, though it may be short in purpose. It's fascinating and horrifying to watch these people go about 'their business.'
Borgman (first name Camiel, which means one who sees God and is supposedly one of the angels who expelled Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden) seems like an enhanced, anthropomorphized demon or imp, rising from the woods' undergrowth, though the opening quote of the film, “And they descended upon the earth to strengthen their ranks," would suggest he came from the opposite direction. He is the most amoral character I've ever met in cinema, acting without an inkling of emotion or even purpose (other than desiring a bath). I have never thought of evil (or evil incarnate) as being without a goal like collecting souls or even deriving pleasure in doing evil. There doesn't even seem to be a mischievous component. One has to guess or just give up on finding a reason for Borgman's actions since we never do find one in the course of the film. I see no comparison in earthly, under-earthly or heavenly beings.
Yes, I am miffed, but there is something to be said about our protagonists -- certainly there is food for thought. Also intriguing is the wife/mother of the household in which Borgman and his crew reside. Actually, she seems a much more enigmatic and empathetic character. If, indeed, it has to do with the family's children, I still don't accept that as a reason. What's so terrible about their lives, what's better about being with Borgman? And since this was not the first house Borgman stopped at to ask for a bath, it is purely accidental that he ended up in this household at all. And what's with the two greyhounds? If you can give a cohesive account of what is happening and why, please let me know. Many have tried - from the religious pre-apocalyptic to class war. I'm not satisfied with either. I may just have to put this film in the category of David Lynch's 'Twin Peaks' (1970) woman with her pet log and moosehead on the bank's conference table -- just f---ing with our heads for lack of skill in construction.
Director/Writer: Alex van Warmerdam
Cast: Jan Bijvoet, Hadewych Minis, Jeroen Perceval, Alex van Warmerdam, Tom Dewispelaere, Sara Hjort Ditlevsen, Elve Lijbaart
Dutch with English subtitles
Time: 113 min.
Opening June 20 at the Opera Plaza Cinema in San Franisco