“Saint Hubert” – Jules Comes

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).Sain Hubert

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.Saint Hubert3

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.

Check the Facebook-page for more info and check Comes’ site for more info on his previous work.

“You Were Never Really Here” – Lynne Ramsay

You Were Never Really Here by the female director Lynne Ramsay is definitely my kind of film. A strong narrative combined with a cool soundtrack and dazzling visuals. It is an action-driven thriller, with a strong human touch thanks to the modest and natural acting performance by Joaquin Phoenix. The film premiered at the 70th edition of the Cannes Film Festival this year in May, resulting in 2 awards for Best Screenplay and Best Actor.

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You Were Never Really Here stars Joaquin Phoenix (Walk the Line (2005), I’m Still Here (2011),…) as the traumatised and tormented war veteran Joe, who now works to save women from sex traffickers until he gets involved in the corrupt rescue mission of the young Nina Votto (Ekatarina Samsona). The story is based on Jonathan Ames’ novella of the same name.

You Were Never Really Here is a rather short film of only 85 minutes, where the average duration of a feature film is around 120 minutes. The short duration is perfect for the narration though. It keeps the dialogues and the action interesting and avoids the audience to become distracted by too many subplots.

The score for You Were Never Really Here is one of the elements that makes the film so hypnotising, which is composed by Jonny Greenwood. You might know him as the guitarist of Radiohead. Ramsay and Greenwood already collaborated on her last feature film We Need To Talk About Kevin in 2011. This time, the score for You Were Never Really Here has the potential to become equally epic as Kavinsky’s “Nightcall” as the score for Drive. 

When it comes to the visuals, Ramsay and her cinematographer Thomas Townend (who shot videoclips for The Killers and Adele) go for an ambitious, almost eclectic style. The different kinds of framing and perspectives alternate at a high pace, which makes the whole a bit overwhelming, but this matches the tension and the action-driven narration. The film is mainly shot at night, which adds up to the dark atmosphere as well.

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International press already pointed at the fact that the film looks familiar as if it’s a revisitation of Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver (1976) combined with the cool of Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive (2011) and Quentin Tarantino’s sadism (you could easily compare with Reservoir Dogs (1992)).Nonetheless, the plot twist in You Were Never Really Here is simply genius, which I won’t spoil. Therefore, you should just go and watch it yourself.

You Were Never Really Here will be released in Belgium on November 15th.