Borgman is a superbly written, directed and acted dark comedy that does not rely on any fancy special effects or mind numbing action.
When a disheveled man shows up on your doorstep most people would turn him away, but when a married woman sneaks him into her home, she has no idea what she is in for. Alex van Warmerdam's Borgman is at times dark and confusing, but it is also highly entertaining and hilarious.
Borgman sets up an absurd reality from the beginning, one where you aren't sure what the heck is going on. A priest and his companion hunt silently through the fields, accompanied by a braying dog. They are armed and deadly. Their quarry is Camiel Borgman (Jan Bijvoet), living in an underground den. As he runs from his hunters he takes time to awaken a pair of friends hidden in dens of their own. He hitches a ride to suburbia and begins going door to door asking for a bath. He finally comes to the home of artist Marina (Hadewych Minis) and media executive Richard (Jeroen Perceval), where he is turned away after a harsh beating at the hands of Richard. Marina feels guilt over his handling and allows him a hidden space for the night.
Marina takes sympathy and allows him to recuperate in the guest wing begins to deceive her husband as Borgman slow insinuates himself into her life and Mariana begins to lose control over it. Borgman invades her dreams as Mariana's dependency on him grows, and soon she needs more of him in her life. "Couldn't you come back in another capacity?," she asks him. "I could," he says, "...but it will have consequences." And are there consequences, mainly at the hands of Borgman's minions, Brenda and Ilonka, who with Borgman's help ensure that Mariana's life will never be the same.
Borgman is unquestionably dark and sinister. Death and mayhem are aplenty, and yet its so absurdly done that its difficult to take any situation seriously or find offense, and its extremely amusing to behold. It's almost as if director Alex van Warmerdam is winking at the audience every time Borgman or his minions have to do any evil so that you whole heartedly root for the characters.
While the entire cast is given moments to shine it's Jan Bijvoet who truly steals the show as the titled character. Bijovet's performance as Borgman is absolute perfection as he goes from bedraggled beggar to suave everyman gardener. He becomes Mariana's crutch and the key to her salvation so firmly that the audience believes him to be the hero, when its just as possible he is an evil incubus invading her dreams with his nightly nude chest sitting. Whether Mariana's dreams are re memories or implanted delusions is never explained, but Bijvoet gracefully transitions through each scene flawlessly.
Borgman is a superbly written, directed and acted dark comedy that does not rely on any fancy special effects or mind numbing action. It's enticing and intriguing from beginning to end but definitely one for the patient viewer.
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