Bullhead (2011)

I’ll probably use this Belgian film for HUM415 during summer session. Not only does it address the core subject matter of the course– what, at this point, I”m calling “crime and system”– but it dramatizes in a very compelling way the relationship between masculinity and the male body. Briefly, Jacky, a Flemish rancher, uses illegal bovine growth hormone (BGH) to maximize the mass of his beef cattle. He becomes entangled with elements of the so-called hormone mafia, who have taken control of this market of the shadow economy in the aftermath of the EU’s ban on BGH. An undercover police officer is murdered. Other police agencies begin to surveil Jacky. Yet behind these crime-thriller developments is a terrible, life-altering event that occurred when Jacky was a boy.

Formally, Bullhead is innovative without being smug or flashy. The use of camera tilt, tracking, back-lighting, and narrative analepsis emphasize the anguish of Jacky’s loss, deepening the film’s human dimensions, even as it propels the story.  Fantastic cinema. It’s streaming on netflix so maybe check it out.

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