Autumn 2014 wWednesday series
Wednesday, November 26, 2014 at 7:00pm
Directed by Alex van Warmerdam
Screenplay by Alex van Warmerdam
Starring Hadewych Minis, Jeroen Perceval, and Jan Bijvoet
Rated 14A ·
Denmark / Belgium / Netherlands
English and Dutch
Dutch filmmaker Alex van Warmerdam’s latest film, which was nominated for a Palme d’Or in 2013, opens with the quote “And they descended upon the earth to strengthen their ranks,” a suitable way to start an eerie and enigmatic journey in which a vagrant enters the lives of an arrogant upper-class family and quickly unravels their carefully curated lifestyle.
We first encounter Camiel Borgman (Jan Bijvoet, The Broken Circle Breakdown) living underground in the woods, his lair camouflaged by the earth and nature that surrounds him, his two associates nearby in similar bunkers. Three fully armed men led by a priest and a canine enter the woods, their swift stride and determined looks indicate they mean business, and using long poles they begin to pierce the ground searching for Borgman and his colleagues.
With some difficulty Camiel manages to elude the hunters and escapes to nearby suburbia where he arrives at the expansive, designer-chic home of media executive Richard (Jeroen Perceval), his artist wife Marina (Hadewych Minis), their three kids, and Stine (Sara Hjort Ditlevsen) the children’s young nanny. When Borgman knocks on the family’s door and asks if he can take a bath there because he is dirty, it leads to hothead Richard beating him severely and wife Marina feeling sorry for the vagrant looking individual. When Richard leaves for work she hides Borgman in a guest cottage where she agrees to let him stay for a few days underneath the radar. Soon he is sneaking into the house, taking baths, and telling bedtime stories to the children. The mood becomes increasingly unsettling as the story progresses and tensions mount with Camiel shifting between the roles of victim and aggressor. He starts inhabiting Marina’s dreams. “Couldn’t you come back in another capacity?,” she asks him. “I could,” he says, “…but it will have consequences.”
“With pitch-perfect performances across the board, and boasting crisp photography and editing, the film never ceases to twist, turn and surprise, taking wicked joy in constantly switching us back on ourselves and our expectations of the characters.” (Jessica Kiang, The Playlist)
“Van Warmerdam keeps such a calm, firm hold on the material that he practically hypnotizes you into following along to the end. The craftsmanship is precise; the result is enigmatic.” (Stephanie Zacharek, Village Voice)
“Coyness aside, Borgman is a supremely controlled and darkly nuanced fable that veers away from your expectations every time you think you have it figured out.” (Josh Kupecki, Austin Chronicle)
“With its palatial setting, Borgman shows how money can buy luxury, but it can’t salvage the corruption that comes from within.” (Eric Kohn, indieWire)