Calvaire

"Good"

Calvaire Review


Lounge singer Marc Stevens (Laurent Lucas) trolls the back roads of Belgium in a van crooning at old people's homes. On stage he's extraordinarily dapper, complete with a sequined cape and blush. He sings ballads and septuagenarians and under-loved nurses swoon under his spell. They offer themselves to him backstage, sneak nude photos of themselves into his coat. Marc's stage presence is magical. But off stage he's barely there, a man whose life is void of emotion and meaning and whose dream of making it big is as far away as the stars.

Marc's route to his next show takes him through the heavily forested Hautes Fagnes in Liège. It's a dark, forbidding place, a no man's land of rain drenched forests and isolated, rotting farms. When his van breaks down, Marc makes his way to the only inn nearby. It's a decided austere affair run by a former performer, the chubby and sad Bartel (played by the brilliant Jackie Berroyer). Bartel offers his humble hospitality and help in fixing the van in exchange for some company. Marc accepts. He's got no other options.

It's over a quiet dinner that Bartel's demeanor begins to change. Bartel tearily begs Marc to sing a love song. Marc grudgingly obliges and his performance is enough to convince Bartel of what Bartel has assumed all along -- Marc is his long lost wayward wife, Gloria. Bartel, now clearly deranged, won't let Gloria/Marc go a second time and he will do everything imaginable to make her stay. Marc's only hope is that the surrounding farmers will come to his rescue. But that's the rub; it seems Belgium's hillbillies are a hell of a lot less obliging than Kentucky's. The English title of Calvaire (translated as The Ordeal) hints at what's to come. And it is indeed, for all involved, an ordeal.

Calvaire is one of those rare unclassifiable films that exist at that often-unsettling intersection of black humor and horror. Like Roman Polanski's widely championed early films -- Repulsion, Knife in the Water, The Tenant -- Fabrice du Welz's Calvaire highlights the absurdities of our human condition with a gallows humor wholly lacking in current American genre cinema. If this were an American film, the monsters at the center of Calvaire would be deformed, the product of incest or radiation or chemical exposure -- anything to distance them (and their actions) from normal. But the ghouls at the heart of Calvaire are as human as you get. And that makes the film all the more frightening.

Director du Welz and co-writer Romain Protat compound horror upon horror until Calvaire climaxes in a sequence so eerie that even David Lynch would crawl under his chair. (It doesn't help that cinematographer Benoit Debie (infamous for Irreversible) is so good at capturing the swirling lunacy.) Off putting, sick, deranged -- Calvaire is a queasy descent into madness and if you've got a black sense of humor you might just find yourself laughing down the vomit.



Calvaire

Facts and Figures

Run time: 88 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 9th March 2005

Distributed by: Palm Pictures

Production compaines: La Parti Productions, Tarantula, Studio Canal, The Film, Backup Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 39%
Fresh: 9 Rotten: 14

IMDB: 6.2 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Fabrice du Welz

Producer: Micheal Gentile, Eddy Geradon-Luyckx,

Starring: as Marc Stevens, as Mademoiselle Vicky, Gigi Coursigny as Madame Langhoff, Jackie Berroyer as M. Bartel, Jean-Luc Couchard as Boris, as Robert Orton, Philippe Grand'Henry as Tomas Orton, as Fermier Mylène, Marc Lefebvre as Lucien, Alfred David as Roland, Alain Delaunois as Gáant, Vincent Cahay as Stan Le Pianiste, Johan Meys as Rosto, Romain Protat as Figurant Dans Le Bar, Damien Waselle as Figurant Dans Le Bar

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

Hidden Figures Movie Review

Hidden Figures Movie Review

This film recounts such a great true story that we don't mind the fact that...

The Founder Movie Review

The Founder Movie Review

This is the story of Ray Kroc, the man who created the concept of McDonald's....

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

Keanu Reeves picks up his supremely efficient hitman immediately where the 2015 original left him:...

Fences Movie Review

Fences Movie Review

After winning Tony Awards on Broadway, Denzel Washington and Viola Davis reteam for a film...

The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

A spin-off from 2014's awesome The Lego Movie, this raucously paced action-comedy is proof that...

The Space Between Us Movie Review

The Space Between Us Movie Review

While the premise of this movie makes it look like a sci-fi adventure, the truth...

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

On paper, the idea of a two-hour 40-minute German comedy may not seem very promising,...

Advertisement
Gold Movie Review

Gold Movie Review

Based on a true story, this lively and sometimes outrageous adventure is packed with twists...

Loving Movie Review

Loving Movie Review

While this film tackles a huge issue in the history of race relations in America,...

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

It's been 20 years since we last saw four freewheeling young junkies from Edinburgh spiral...

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Based on an astounding true story, this battlefield drama mixes warm emotion with intense action...

Sing Movie Review

Sing Movie Review

The quality of the animation in this musical comedy may not be up to Pixar...

Jackie Movie Review

Jackie Movie Review

Rather than make a standard biopic about the most famous First Lady in American history,...

Split Movie Review

Split Movie Review

After a few badly received sci-fi blockbusters, M. Night Shyamalan returned to his earthier style...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.