Saint Hubert is a thriller short by the Blegian director Jules Comes and was selected for the Flemish Competition: Fiction at the International Shortfilm Festival in Leuven this month, which is his 4th selection after Stadskind (2010), Pelgrim (2011) and Dit Is Ronald (2012).
During a big police investigation in the oldest nature park in the German-speaking region of Belgium, the police officers meet a local forester called Werner (Wim Opbrouck). He is the protector of the area and he does the best he can to keep intruders distanced. Nonetheless, the confrontation gets out of hand.
Comes describes his latest short as a ‘clash between nature and the modern world’. This can be illustrated by the film’s ending with the forester chasing the police officer (Wouter Hendrickx) on a race track, which in my opinion symbolises the clash between nature and the modern society, where Werner is the one who loses his power.
Comes casted some of Flanders’s best actors with Wim Opbrouck. The role of German forester suits him to a tee. Maybe this is because of his posture including his natural woodchopper-beard. But what amazes most is the fact that he talks German throughout the entire film. In another life, I used to work as a German teacher, so I must say you can tell that German is not Opbrouck’s mother tongue, nonetheless, the result is quite flawless. And actually, it just proves Opbrouck’s capacities as an actor.
According to Comes Saint Hubert is a “combination between the nature documentaries by David Attenborough and a Rambo-film”. Funny enough, this is exactly how I perceived his film while watching it. The visuals of nature are wild and pure. Cinematographer Grimm Vandekerckhove alternates close-ups and extreme wide shots to show the beauty of untouched nature, where Werner is the lord of the hunt and protector at the same time. Unfortunately, the police officers disturb his peace, and therefore they get hunted by him in a violently psychotic way.
The title of the short film refers to the Christian Saint Hubertus, the patron saint of hunters, which declares Werner’s role as the protector of his area. Another remarkable aspect of the film is the thrilling classical music. The music is a very important element to raise the tension, just like in Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Lobster (2015). Combined with the montage techniques like slow motion in crucial sequences, Comes succeeds in getting you on the tip of your toes like a real master of suspense.