I enjoy surrealism. I also enjoy the more contemporary tendency in European films to take a seemingly normal premise and then ever-so-slowly turn it stranger and stranger. It’s very much in keeping with what filmmakers like Luis Bunuel did so well, and the reason why his films remain so fascinating. With the release of the teaser trailer for the Dutch film Borgman, directed by Alex van Warmerdam, I have high hopes for a continuation of this trend.
Borgman tells the apparently simple story of a homeless man (Jan Bijovet) who appears at a family’s door requesting a bath. Unsurprisingly, he’s rejected, but manages to worm his way into the bosom of the family. Then things begin to get incredibly weird. I think. Something violent certainly happens, and there’s a small child with a brick (?) and the yard begins falling apart. I really do not know.
Nor do I think I’m supposed to. Borgman is meant to look intriguing and it does. It is a particular brand of European weirdness – macabre, sinister and absurd – that American films only manage sporadically. I have a feeling that there will be no easy answers with this one.
Borgman has already premiered at Cannes to generally favorable reviews with some reservations. The consensus seems to be that it’s an interesting concept that does not quite achieve everything it sets out to. The problem with films like these is that they sometimes begin with an interesting concept that has nowhere to go, or that peters out in favor of a simplistic ending. Still, this trailer is enough to get me clamoring for an American release.
The English-subtitled version of the Borgman trailer cannot be embedded, I’m sorry to say, but you can watch it here.
Check out the Dutch-language version with French subtitles first, though, because the images in and of themselves are fascinating to watch.