Written and directed by Alex van Warmerdam
Borgman can be summed up in one word… whatthefuckisgoingonhere? Honestly, you’ll spend a good part of the movie trying to put all the strange pieces together, but the good news is you will certainly be entertained along the way.
This unique Dutch offering is a genre-bending film for sure. There are horror elements in there and it’s a thriller. And Borgman is a drama and, perhaps more than anything else, comedy. Humor is a huge part of the movie. And it’s often a very dry and intelligent humor that viewers are sure to appreciate.
Borgman has an incredibly ambiguous story, one which sometimes doesn’t seem to make complete sense, but the strength of the movie is in the cast, especially Jan Bijvoet, who plays Camile Borgman, a small, scruffy man we discover living in a well-furnished hole in the forest floor (like one of Winnie-the-Pooh’s woodland friends). When Borgman senses hunters are coming for him, he quickly abandons his home and heads for ze hills. Along the way he alerts his buddies Ludwig and Pascal, who are living in similar conditions, and they all take off for a safer location.
It is from this point that the story picks up. Camile is filthy from living in the woods and looking for a bath… and this brings him, seemingly randomly, to the home of Richard and Marina in search of some good Samaritans who would help out a weary traveler.You’ll spend the next hour and a half trying to decide if Borgman is the victim or the antagonist, what his motivation is and how he’s having such a tremendous effect on Richard and Marina’s family.
From here, the filmmakers give you a full helping of Bijvoet’s quirky and incredibly entertaining portrayal of Borgman. We get some additional (and equally as odd) characters added to the mix, and then one unique scene after another as Borgman stealthily burrows his way into the family’s life and begins to do damage. Again, his motivation is not always clear, but his actions, and especially his dialogue and mannerisms, are generally humorous and fun.
Borgman is not your average cinematic fare. Not by a longshot. It is reminiscent of several films, without actually resembling any of them. It has scenery like The Human Centipede (First Sequence), human burial in the vein of Motel Hell and an ending that is reminiscent to The Woman, but that being said, Borgman is absolutely nothing like any of those movies, aside from the shadow of a memory of those films you’ll get by watching it. For a movie with its meaning buried so deep, it’s surprisingly easy to enjoy.
If you like dry wit, some decent drama and a little horrific action – and don’t necessarily mind the fact that you don’t have a complete handle as to what’s going on – then you will definitely dig Borgman. For the more traditional movie viewer, those that need something a little more concrete, this might not suit your fancy, although there is enough dry humor in here to entertain even the stuffiest of stuffed shirts.
3 out of 5