Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBBB
Belgium/Luxembourg/France, 2008. Gaumont, Samsa Film, Artemis Productions, Radio Television Belge Francophone, Bankable, La Sofica Cofinova 4, Canal+, CineCinema, Film Fund Luxembourg, Cofinova 4, Pôle Image de Liège. Original idea by Frederic Taddei, Vincent Ravalec, Scenario, adaptation and dialogue by Mabrouk El Mechri, in collaboration with Frederic Benudis, Christophe Turpin. Cinematography by Pierre-Yves Bastard. Produced by Sidonie Dumas. Music by Gast Waltzing. Production Design by Andre Fonsny. Costume Design by Uli Simon. Film Editing by Kako Kelber.
The fine line between fiction and reality is ridden to perfection in this straight-outta-left-field work of art by Mabrouk El Mechri. Jean-Claude Van Damme impresses and inspires as a fictional version of himself, struggling to break out of straight-to-video hell while at the same enlisted in a messy and expensive custody battle for his young daughter. While visiting a post office in Brussels to send his lawyer money to keep his case going, Van Damme accidentally winds up in the middle of a hold-up whose nature goes completely haywire once the bad guys realize that they’ve got a movie star hostage. From there the proceedings spin out of control as our hero tries to keep the situation from getting deadly while also proving himself to be not too far from the Muscles From Brussels persona we all love him for. And then there’s the extraordinary, mostly improvised ten minute monologue that pops up out of nowhere and takes the film from breathtaking suspense and stunt kicks to soulful and heartbreaking. The rest of the time it brilliantly captures the effects of celebrity culture on public morality while being superbly directed, edited and photographed, unforgettable on all levels and worth repeat viewings.
Toronto International Film Festival: 2008