Man Bites Dog (1992)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BB.5

Original title:  C’est Arrive Pres De Chez Vous

Belgium, 1992.  Les Artistes Anonymes.  Story by Remy Belvaux, Screenplay by Remy Belvaux, Andre Bonzel, Benoit Poelvoorde, .  Cinematography by Andre Bonzel. Produced by Remy Belvaux, Andre Bonzel, Benoit Poelvoorde.  Music by , , .  Film Editing by Remy Belvaux, .  

A documentary crew follows a serial killer on his rounds, applying the same hands-off human-interest style of soft news pieces to a man who viciously shoots people and rapes women. Shot in black and white and featuring Benoit Poelvoorde as the off-kilter and terrifying but charismatic star, the film is unflinching in its believable depiction of his actions, the observations of which wear down the crew behind the camera who at one point become involved in the mayhem. It is successful as an indictment of the voyeurism encouraged by the culture of nightly news, that we are pretending to want to be informed when really we are indulging ourselves in nihilistic fantasies, but that conceit is basically one concept spread out over an entire film, and that concept wears thin very quickly. Those turned off by the ripe imagery will want to avoid it, but its level of detail (which also, very hilariously, includes interviews with Poelvoorde’s real family members who had no idea the subject of the film) is certainly impressive.

The Criterion Collection:  #165

Toronto International Film Festival:  1992

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