Screened as part of NZIFF 2016

The First, the Last 2016

Les premiers, les derniers

Directed by Bouli Lanners

Two bounty hunters searching the flatlands of Western Europe for a stolen cellphone cross paths with two lovers on the run from the end of the world in this deadpan delight from Belgian actor/director Bouli Lanners.

Belgium/France In French with English subtitles
98 minutes CinemaScope/DCP
R13 (violence and offensive language)

Director/Screenplay

Producers

Jacques-Henri Bronckart
,
Olivier Bronckart
,
Catherine Bozorgan

Photography

Jean-Paul De Zaeytijd

Editor

Ewin Ryckaert

Production designer

Paul Rouschop

Costume designer

Elise Ancion

Music

Pascal Humbert

With

Albert Dupontel (Cochise)
,
Bouli Lanners (Gilou)
,
Suzanne Clément (Clara)
,
Michael Lonsdale (Jean-Berchmans
,
guest house owner)
,
David Murgia (Willy)
,
Aurore Broutin (Esther)
,
Philippe Rebbot (Jésus)
,
Serge Riaboukine (hunter leader)
,
Lionel Abelanski (warehouse man)
,
Virgile Bramly (bastard)
,
Max von Sydow (undertaker)

Festivals

Berlin 2016

Elsewhere

Bouli Lanners’ poker-faced crime drama favours black humour and existentialism over genre heroics, almost like a gothic, Belgian riff on the Coens’ No Country for Old Men. In a god-forsaken no man’s land somewhere in rural Western Europe, which could just as easily be the American West, two world-weary but good-hearted bounty hunters, Cochise (Albert Dupontel) and Gilou (Lanners), have been hired to track down a stolen cellphone. They have a device that can track the phone but only when it’s switched on. Trouble is the thieves, two young lovers on the run, are convinced that the end of the world is nigh and don’t seem to have much use for the phone. It’s not long before both hunters and hunted fall foul of a local criminal gang with their own thickheaded agenda.

A terrific supporting cast amplify the deadpan hijinks, including Canadian actress Suzanne Clément (Mommy) as a lonely single mother who befriends Cochise; French veteran Michael Lonsdale as the world’s most decrepit hotelier; and Bergman regular Max von Sydow as a grave undertaker. Oh, and there’s also a homeless drifter called Jésus (French character actor Philippe Rebbot), who bears a striking resemblance to the real deal. — MM