Bullhead

Writer-director Michaël R. Roskam’s debut feature, an Oscar nominee, might be the best Beligan cattle-hormone-mafia movie you’ll ever see. That allows some leeway for general imperfections, yes, but who’d have even thought to make a character study like this, and to cast it so perfectly? Matthias Schoenaerts stars as a steroid-addled simpleton whose highly unfortunate childhood needs revisiting when his family beef business gets embroiled with cops, mobsters and an estranged old friend who once let him down (Jeroen Perceval, also very good). Occasional plot holes and unfortunate twitches of bumbling-criminal comic relief can’t keep Schoenaerts down; with Roskam’s help — playing mud-dark scenes of stifled anguish against occasional painterly low-horizon landscapes — he raises bovine dimness and brutality to tragic proportions. A basic analysis of humans, mostly male, behaving like animals, this is a groin-tug of a movie, but not only in the ways you might expect.