The first time that young Jacky was aware of women’s breasts was also the same day a neighbor’s rather demented son smashed his testicles to shreds. Deflowered of his ‘manhood’ at this tender age he started a daily regime of inject himself with all manner of tester-one to bulk himself up to mask his insecurity. He was only really repeating what his cattle farming family had illegally been doing to their livestock for years and in fact they were the exactly the same steroids.
As a bulky pumped up adult Jacky is consumed with rage intimidating people for his uncle who raises beef cattle. He gets involved in Belgium’s ‘hormone mafia’ who have fatally shot a cattle inspector who was about to expose them and now the police, aided by an informer in their midst, are in hot pursuit and are closing in on them all.
To be perfectly frank, the overly complicated plot with its rival gangs and an intense drama over a stolen car was not easy to fathom out for the first part of the movie, and the dramatically darkly lit locations didn’t help either, but it all makes sense in the end. What makes this violent thriller a real cut above the rest is angry Jacky’s complete obsession, which is propelled by his great fear and insecurity about being a ‘real man’. Despite his abhorrent violent attitude of a man totally out of control caused his excessive overuse of hormone injections, there is still a part of you that wants to sympathize with the young boy who didn’t deserve to end up like this.
This is all set in a remote part of Belgium where the rivalry between the Walloons and Flemish people just added another confusing dimension to the plot. The Flemish actor Matthias Schoenaerts gave an outstanding raw performance as Jacky, which really made the movie so fascinating …. I read too that he had really bulked up considerably for the role (as pictures proved he did) BUT without using any steroids. Now, that is dedication for you,
This was Belgium’s entry for Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, and it is quite wonderful to watch but totally unsettling. I am seriously thinking about becoming a vegetarian now I really know what they pump in that meat. And I shall look twice at any meaty farmer from now on too!