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.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2016
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