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.