Thoughtful reviews, the Boulder film scene

" The only second chance you get is the chance to make the same mistake twice "
State and Main

MRQE Top Critic

Jaffa

Jaffa views the Israeli/Palestinian conflict through the lens of young love. —Matt Anderson (DVD review...)

Sponsored links

Antwerp. A woman is working late into the night. She’s poring over old building plans and has found a mysterious basement room in a modern building that perhaps lies over an older building site. She goes to investigate and the last we see of her is her red dress disappearing into a black hole. Actually I couldn’t tell what was going on, it was pretty dark.

You get 20 minutes into Left Bank before there’s another hint that this might be anything like a horror film. But don’t get too excited, it’s another 20 minutes before the next suggestion comes along. Note that I say “suggestion” because you’re now 40 minutes into the film and nothing special has happened. Even if this wasn’t supposed to be a horror film, nothing happens. I’ve seen paint drying that was scarier... or more romantic... or more thoughtful. Instead we wander up and down isles of story-lines reading the labels and moving on. The only horrific carnage to be seen are the lifeless bodies of plots lying everywhere. Dead Endz might have been a more accurate title.

Is there any way I can have my 90 minutes back?
Is there any way I can have my 90 minutes back?

Marie (Eline Kuppens) is an up-and-coming Dutch track star who is handicapped with a tyrannical coach and divorced parents: a goofy vegetarian mom and an aging rock bassist dad. If Marie can just qualify in the upcoming race she will win a place on the team to the big all-Europe race in Lisbon. This is the set-up that consumes the first third of the film. I know what you are saying, “Oh no, not another satanic Dutch track film!”

But no, Marie comes down with some vague blood disorder and she’s sent to the bench until she recovers. Could it have something to do with her suave new boy friend Bobby (Matthias Schoenaerts)? He’s an archer (hey, that’s a sport too ) who’s maybe trying to get a slot on that big Lisbon trip.... or not. We’ll never know because the whole track-and-field theme gets sidelined when the film shifts gears and gets all hot and steamy up at Bobby’s high rise bachelor pad on the Left Bank (no, not that Left Bank.. this is the one in Antwerp ...who knew they had one too?).

Bobby’s building is populated by his spooky grandmother, shaved head weirdoes and creepy Russian ne’er-do-wells. Well it is the Left Bank after all and you know how they are over there. Actually (spoiler alert) at this point you don’t know. It’s not until later we’re told that the place has “a history.” So Marie moves in with Bobby and the film tries to move on to be a Dutch Rosemary’s Baby. Marie is exhibiting some symptoms of being pregnant, mainly throwing up regularly but at the same time she is still having her periods. Though instead of blood, it seems to be some black substance ... possibly black mud? Now that’s creepy and if it became a key issue, you’d have a horror film you could write home about.

Ever restless, Left Bank wanders away from the Rosemary theme when Marie gets bored and decides to go AMA (Against Medical Advice in hospital-talk ) and starts running again. At this point, I too felt like running away, but stuck to my post. Where was this all going? More throwing up? Apart from the characters’ names not changing, vomiting seemed to be the only constant.

But no, Marie is out trail-running and trips over something ... a branch?.. her own feet? Whatever. It’s not important. She’s skinned her knee and as the doctor tells her and Bobby in the next scene, she’s damaged her cartilage! And just when you thought Left Bank couldn’t get any scarier. The film too seems to sense that something had better happen next, so Marie’s leg starts to fester, grow black and spouts hair at the wound. Again, an idea that might have promise, but then we get detoured to the historical aside (see above) and learn that the Left Bank in general and the high-rise in particular is located on the exact spot that was home to a guild of dragon worshiping pagan archers! Oh fear, oh terror, oh brother!

With just minutes left in the film, the pieces start falling rapidly together. Sadly, they seem to be from different puzzles. In the sputtering climax Marie gets sacrificed to a mud-hole, Bobby is ritually killed (maybe) by his fellow archers and the Russian gangster turns out to be not part of the story... along with the hippy dad, the coach and the constantly appearing oil refinery which is across the river so it’s not even on the Left Bank. In the postscript, Marie gets recycled as a new born baby (the mom opines “I’ll name her ‘Marie’.. whoa!.. who saw that coming?) and chills run up and down my spine at the thought of Left Bank II, The Return of Marie. Is there any way I can have my 90 minutes back please?

DVD Extras

Deleted scenes... we can only wonder what possibly could have been left out since a little bit of everything was left in.

Picture and Sound

Actually a quite well photographed film.. you know those Dutch, always good with a landscape and a still life.

How to Use This DVD

A door stop? A paper weight? Use your imagination.