starring Jan Bijvoet, Hadewych Minis, Jeroen Perceval, Sara Hjort Ditlevsen
written and directed by Alex van Warmerdam
by Walter Chaw Screening at the SDFF and now travelling with the Alamo Fantastic Fest, Alex van Warmerdam's Borgman gets the Yorgos Lanthimos Award for Most Devastating Absurdist Metaphor for Familial Dysfunction. Smart as hell and unapologetically surreal, its central motivating image is a tableaux vivant of Henry Fuseli's "The Nightmare," tipping off not just the ethos of the film, but also that there may be running threads concerning mothers (Fuseli was Mary Wollstonecraft's lover), monsters (Mary being the mother of Mary "Frankenstein" Shelley), the empowerment of women (the mother again), nightmares, of course, and maybe Romanticism, if only in the picture's awareness and perversion of nature. Demanding a specific kind of active spectatorship, Borgman is a complex film with heat, and somewhere in the middle of it there's a performance within a performance that ends with a declaration of intent that stands as one of the most existentially chilling things in cinema this year.