Reviews: The Ardennes

Check out Raul's review of the new foreign crime drama, Les Ardennes. 

Belgium’s unique take on the crime drama genre is crazy, weird, intense, and highly ambitious.

It is a film that is hard to compare to any other; it has similarities in darkness to something like Fargo and yet it is totally different. The story involves a brother that is released from prison after four years and the triangle of relationships that exist between him, his brother, and his old girlfriend. It is, at its core, a drama that focuses on the themes of change, brotherhood, and loyalty. It then gets flipped around into a very dark story with truly unforgettable and heart-stopping final minutes.

Whoa. Whoa. Whoa. It's not what it looks like. 

The cinematography is absolutely breathtaking. Cinematographer Robert Heyvaert brings forth a distinctive palette of grey and toned-down colors, creating a bleakness throughout the picture. This is someone to pay attention to, with another feature just being released called Black that I am looking forward to seeing what he does with.

This film was both written and directed by Robin Pront. You wouldn’t have known that this was his first feature length picture, as he makes great use of the cast and their surroundings. There are some truly memorable scenes, including a cool car wash fight that has most likely not been duplicated. The performances he gets out of his actors are something special. It feels as though they actually are these characters, and we are watching a documentary about them. 

The music and score are very good. The composer uses a mix of symphonic tones similar to those in the movie Drive and also a series of techno and dance songs. All of it works perfectly, and helps add to the overall sinister tone of this movie.

This fire will keep us warm. Anyone got some marshmallows?

This was screened at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2015 and received the Magritte Award for Best Foreign Film in Coproduction. Like Bullhead previous to this, the Flemish motion picture industry is truly starting to show its ability to create its own brand of exceptional crime cinema.

It’s hard to pinpoint a specific movie to compare this to, but if you like gloomy and gritty crime features than this is a must-see. It is currently available on Amazon Prime.

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-Raul Vantassle