User Score
7.3

Generally favorable reviews- based on 32 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 28 out of 32
  2. Negative: 2 out of 32

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  1. Nov 14, 2013
    7
    You start off not liking the main character, Jacky, seemingly a low IQ brute on massive steroids. Then we see why, or at least what, caused him to end up a battered human. Just when we get that message he shows us he is a brute after all, but a complicated one, and quite intelligent, when he can see through his steroid haze. The movie unfortunately decides to take on more than a character study and throws in so many additional plots, which take time to unravel, that it ends up distracting from the fascinating human tragedy that is at it's core. There is a Quasimodo sense of a tortured beast, but with no heroine to rescue, and a predictable ending. Expand
  2. Jul 26, 2013
    7
    "Bullhead" is a dark, convoluted Belgian drama, an Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Language Film in 2011, which succeeds almost entirely on the rugged shoulders of Matthias Schoenaerts. His fantastic performance creates a memorable character named Jacky, a muscled loner filled with amorphous rage that spills over in unexpected moments. Jacky is a steroid using cattle rancher who works out an arrangement with some meat-trading Dutch mobsters, only to try and back out when an investigating federal agent is gunned down.

    It is this sequence of events that forces him to revisit a horrific incident from his childhood 20 years ago, as well as the people who were involved in that pivotal moment of his life. The back-story of Vanmarsenille's anger is revealed in flashbacks to his adolescence, when his life is forever altered. Most films feature a character that must face and overcome, and it is just the opposite in "Bullhead."

    Jacky has become expert in the use of hormones over the course of his life. He gobbles pills, stabs himself with needles, and throws punches in the air like De Niro in "Raging Bull" (1980). The sight of Jacky curled in the fetal position in his bathroom, or shadow boxing in front of a window after he has just injected himself with hormones gets a little repetitive, but it's always dramatically shot. These moments also serve as a window to Jacky's true self. His jittery attempts to reconnect with his childhood crush--a vibrant woman named Lucia (Jeanne Dandoy), who now runs a perfume store in the French-speaking part of the country, are truly heartbreaking because he is so clearly uncomfortable in his own skin. Jacky constantly has some type of chemical rushing through his veins, so you never know when he's going to explode. He's dangerous, unstable, and intimidating- yet you can't help but feel sympathy for the guy.

    "Bullhead" contains the elements for a simple story of personal tragedy, and yet at times it becomes messy and overbearing. A hazily sketched-out story line involving a dead cop, beef traders, and "the hormone Mafia underworld," with Jacky loosely connected to them all. At the heart of this story is a man and his obsession, and his destructive inner demons, which he has never been able to control. With Schoenaerts' impressive performance, you get the feeling that would be more than enough for this film. Roskam's habit of elliptical storytelling abandons motivational explanations, and the narrative makes the viewer work harder than usual to understand contextual issues. That being said, it is a fine directorial debut for Michaƫl Roskam, and Matthias Schoenaerts is now no longer under the radar.
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  3. Feb 25, 2013
    10
    Great and intense! You can see the emotions and the tense plot. It is heartbreaking to see him suffer. The storyline is pitch perfect and would had been one of the best foreign language film!!! Don't think, do it! Watch it, now, or up! Your choice!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  4. Apr 4, 2012
    8
    My final Febiofest screening of this Oscar-nominated Belgian film, a powerfully ravishing drama-crime blends a hidden atrocity in the past. The film owns an entangled and compelling script, sprinkling a few dastardly violence on screen, eliciting a fatalism presentiment and heroism boosting. From the beginning voiceover about the re-surface of some tucked-away secrets, the audience all anticipates the unraveling of the mystery, which turns out to be a frightful child trauma which prompts our protagonistâ Expand
  5. Feb 23, 2012
    10
    Very good movie. Starts as a rural crime flick then subtly turns into an intense character study. Great performances by the lead actors. Don't miss it, this is what cinema should be: a movie that leaves you thinking for hours about what you just saw.
  6. Feb 21, 2012
    8
    Bullhead is a very unique Belgian gangster film involving the hormone mafia- a Flemish criminal consortium that supplies big commercial cattle ranchers with injections (some of which are very dangerous to health) that bring cows to full maturity (fat) in eight weeks instead of 10. The anti-hero of the film is a real bastard and completely unsympathetic-until we learn in a flashback a horrific event that has left him physically shattered and emotionally crippled. There is plenty of suspense and some action but terrible beauty of the film is coming to grips with the psychological aspects of the antihero-especially in two key relationships-one with a friend who he was with he was injured-and one with a woman who he wants to be his â Expand
  7. Feb 18, 2012
    0
    Not a good movie. I wish I could summarize my complete hatred toward this film within the confines of a paragraphs length, but alas, I am unable, and unwilling at that. Cliche characters, boring, unoriginal.
  8. Feb 18, 2012
    9
    It's an outstanding film. The lead character is so damaged, and you develop such sympathy for him. The trailer led me to believe he'd be some monster, but the flashbacks to his youth are uniquely heartbreaking, and you come to truly feel for the guy as he's doing his best to live a quasi-normal life given his circumstances. The supporting characters are fantastic. Even some stabs at light humor within the very heavy storyline are effective. The cadence of the film is right on the money. Collapse
  9. Feb 17, 2012
    8
    Esta película presenta un guión original y con él más o menos logra sacar la película. Repito, la premisa es tan original que logra enganchar hasta el final. Al final la película deja varias reflexiones en torno a la virilidad, la justicia, etc. Absolutamente recomendable.
  10. Feb 17, 2012
    7
    What could have been a very interesting character study on the things that mature us and make us men, is inevitably distracted by a relevant and interesting sub-plot involving treating cattle with illegal growth stimulants in the gangster underworld. The story gets lost in the plot, though the acting is worth the price of admission, and the direction at times is shows an amazing amount of empathy and fear. This good film could have been an instant classic with another script rewrite, but it's still a worthy contender for Best Foreign Language film, though it'll inevitably lose to "A Separation". Expand
Metascore
68

Generally favorable reviews - based on 24 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 15 out of 24
  2. Negative: 1 out of 24
  1. Reviewed by: Mike Scott
    Mar 16, 2012
    60
    Unlike most enforcers in the movies, Jacky isn't just a brainless slab of meat.
  2. Reviewed by: Peter Rainer
    Mar 2, 2012
    75
    Schoenaerts has the gift of being able to make inarticulateness expressive. Perhaps this is why, in moments, he seems to recall Brando and Dean.
  3. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    Mar 1, 2012
    63
    Schoenaerts is often affecting and just as often scarily intense. The film's intensity, by contrast, beams on and off.