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Bullhead Review

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Belgian cattleman Jacky Vanmarsenille (Schoenaerts) is caught up in a shady hormone doping scheme run by an unscrupulous meat magnate (Louwyck). The death of a policeman and a dark secret from his past soon raise the stakes...

★★★★

Eyebrows were raised when Belgium bypassed the Dardenne Brothers to enter this glowering rural thriller in last year’s Oscar race, but it paid off with a deserved nomination. A densely plotted study of illegal hormone trading in the cattle racket, overseen by stormy skies and possibly homicidal veterinarians, it’s more than a Eurostar ride away from James Herriot. As a farmer sharing his livestock’s steroids to mask the effects of a wince-worthy childhood trauma, Matthias Schoenaerts is immense in all senses: between this and Rust And Bone, he’s emerged as the arthouse’s hottest new property.

Made before Rust And Bone but timed to capitalise on Schoenaerts' new-found profile among English speaking audiences, Bullhead more than deserves its run at the big screen. So does its star.