Stranded somewhere in the Ardennes after his van breaks down, Marc Stevens (Laurent Lucas “Harry He’s Here To Help”), a travelling cabaret singer, is taken in by a kindly inn keeper who offers to fix his van and give him shelter for the night. But the motivation for the innkeeper’s kind actions soon changes from altruism to a fervent desire to prevent his new guest from ever leaving. The thing is Marc reminds the lonely inn-keeper of his long-lost wife. Before Marc knows it, his van is sabotaged and he is stranded. But this is only the start of his ordeal and what follows has to be seen to be believed… “The Ordeal” (aka “Calvaire”) delivers a terrifying and darkly comic tale of obsession, kidnap, and borderline psychosis that brings to mind films such as “Deliverance”, “Straw Dogs” and “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre”, but that has a continental flavour very much its own.
2004 – Certificate: 18 – Rating Details: Strong bloody violence – Belgium Film – 5.0 out of 10
I don’t drink a lot of wine; (except ginger wine, but I’m not sure that really counts). I don’t know a lot about it either. I know it comes in three colours, bottles or boxes, sometimes it’s fizzy and in France they feed babies with it, but other than that… So imagine my surprise when I sat down on Friday evening and found myself drinking an excellent 2004, organic Merlot from the Central Valley of Chile. (Actually I bought it from Majestic Wines in Reading a number of years ago, due to my misunderstanding its rules about having to buy at least 12 bottles at a time; but you know what I mean.) I think I probably selected it based on four things; it was organic, it was vegan, it wasn’t from France and it was strong (14% vol). That’s basically how I select wine; although do generally prefer rosé wine because I can put it in the fridge and drink it cold, without the wine police raiding my home; and it’s a more interesting colour than white wine. I’m not especially a fan of red wine, but this was actually pretty nice. I’d had it laid down in my wine cellar for nearly ten years. (I don’t like to brag, but my personal wine cellar is a small rack I bought from Argos that sits on the bottom shelf of a bookcase in my hall.) I actually had to wipe all the dust off the bottle before opening it. Along with the bollocks written on the label and the lack of a hangover the next day, that pretty well demonstrates just how authentically high-quality it really was. In fact it was nice enough for me to finish off the whole bottle on my own whilst watching this film. With hindsight, it’s probably just as well, as this movie was a bit like the wine bottle’s label.
Well, this was all a bit rubbish. Weirdly, it seems to have a number of fans at IMDB, but really, it’s not very good. For a start it’s not funny. The sleeve says it is but it isn’t, unless it’s being ironic and we’re supposed to laugh at it because it’s so bad. The continuity is dreadful. Perhaps I’m missing something here, but to me it just looked like the weather changed from shot to shot; in one case from no snow at all to a thick layer of snow on the ground, in the middle of a chase. I’m sure dealing with weather is a nightmare for filmmakers, but most seem to manage. I didn’t find any of the characters the least bit sympathetic, not even the victim, although I think that was intentional; the guy was a stupid, boring wuss and his singing was crap too. There were just too many random incidents that really don’t go anywhere or explain anything. And at times the editing was more jarring than dropping to sub-light speed; (probably, as I’ve not actually done the latter, yet). Maybe I’m being a bit mean. Some of the cinematography is actually very impressive, the acting decent and the bizarre dance the guys do in the pub was nearly worth it for the wtf moment it provides. But no, actually I’m not. It’s entertaining in its own way, but I preferred my bottle of wine.
This movie has a very space soundtrack, very sparse. I guess what there is of it works well.
The trailer makes the film look a lot more horrific, a lot faster and more action packed than it really is.
Movie Weather Forecast. Heavy rain, followed by entirely random sunny spells, snow and rain showers, with the latter sometimes settling and sometimes melting very, very quickly, before suddenly coming back again. Cold at all times, but not so cold that a thin jumper won’t keep you warm enough.
Recommended for inn-keepers, cabaret singers and farmers.
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.
Top badass moment? This is a movie with far too many arbitrary happenings in it, but credit where credit’s due. The random dance by the guys in the village pub is completely inexplicable, creepy and downright weird. Somehow (and I can’t really explain why), that makes it pretty badass.
I drive a car; it’s a company car; it’s a Ford Focus. I try not to use it too often, as it’s a car and cars are the spawn of the devil in environmental terms; however, I do find I need to drive one for my job from time to time. It’s now about 4.5 years old. As such it’s been entirely reliable, except for one tiny, tiny little detail; the fucking thing has an inability to hold any sort of change in its battery! It’s been four days since I last drove it and this morning it won’t start, again. I can’t even bump start it down the slope, as for the first time this winter (and I know it’s winter as I had to put the heating on at home last week), the windows are all frosted up and I can’t see a thing out of them. I can’t even wind the window down to look out of as they’re electrically operated. I also can’t easily clear the windows, as I broke my last window scraper last winter and haven’t quite got around to buying a new one. (I did try once but Halfords was sold out. How Halfords “We Go the Extra Mile” and probably the biggest vehicle superstore chain in the country can be sold out of windows scrapers I don’t know, but there you go.)
I’m presently waiting for the breakdown vehicle to come out (for I think the fifth time this year) to get it going again. It will probably be the same guy again. In fact with my busy social life I probably now see this chap more often than any of my friends; he’s going to start thinking I fancy him or something, as no one can really have such an unreliable car can they? (Not that I have any friends as I’m a total loser and socially inadequate.)
No it’s not the battery. A new one was fitted less than a year ago. Anyone who remembers the fun I had then getting it imported from Inner Mongolia (well it’s a Ford Focus, so it’s apparently pretty exclusive and requires obscure parts) will remember that this isn’t a new problem.
No it’s not the electrical system. It was in the local Ford dealers about two months ago getting the problem ‘fixed’. (Like the same dealer has ‘fixed’ the missing hub cab three times after I’ve asked it to, which strangely still seems to be missing. Or the cracked button on the hand brake, which looks remarkably similar even though I’ve asked for this to be replaced twice. )
So basically what it must be is that the engine has been taken over by a supernatural entity with a crap and very limited sense of humour, who enjoys pissing me off. Either that, or Ford make shite cars (and run even more excrement fuelled dealerships who’s mechanics couldn’t organise a children’s party in a Toys ‘R’ Us store). Humm, choices, choices.
Right now I’m listening to (somewhat inappropriately) “Maximum Joy” by Frankie Goes to Hollywood.