I really liked previous reviewer Endless Mike's thought about "Pusher" being Danish "Mean Streets" and "Bleeder" being Danish "Taxi Driver". Although I haven't seen "Pusher" yet, now I guess I can make up my mind about it, well sort of. And now I'm definately after this film because "Bleeder" proved to be rather solid, thoughtful and mind-blowing experience. De Niro's Travis Bickle was a war vet, and character of Leo in "Bleeder" is deforming mentally in our peaceful times which is more terrible as I think.
First thing you notice when watching is that all the main characters' names begin with L: Leo, Lenni, Lea, Louis, Louise... Haven't figured out yet what Nicolas Refn was alluding to, but maybe I will.
"Bleeder" is one of those recent European movies telling everything is not quite OK in cozy and trouble-free Europe. Actually everything is very-very wrong. "Man Bites Dog", "Funny Games", "Trouble Every Day", "In My Skin" and Lars von Trier's (also Danish) "The Idiots" demonstrate a dangerous tendency - in the epoch of a total progress people don't need each other anymore. They all exist in their small strange worlds by themselves hence alienation and all sorts of derangements. When I said that thay don't need each other I meant all the external factors. Actually people crave communication, friendship and love, but as they unlearned to communicate they are bound to be lonely mostly. And loneliness gives birth to various kinds of perversions and mental illnesses within a man. People don't know how to get acquainted anymore, they don't understand each other at all, everyone seems to be all alone in this world. There's a brilliant scene in "Bleeder" when Lenni tries to talk to a girl he likes. Their dialog is extremely funny and at the same time very sad, because you realise it's all true. Lenni doesn't know what to talk about to a girl, seems like he sees a female for the first time in his life. Leo also has trouble with his wife who's pregnant. His life is sh*t as he says himself, he doesn't want his baby to live in such a shi*ty world. The only person close to him who could comfort him and just listen to him is his wife, but she doesn't understand him. Well, neither does he understand her. So they have to live together in an atmosphere of total estrangement. It's a contemporary tragedy - no passions a la Shakespear, just simple, quiet life which is utterly tragic, because people are isolate. In spite of the fact that "Bleeder" is pretty sad and has some disturbing scenes, Refn managed to make it rather funny at the same time. I already mentioned some dialogs - well, they all are so hilarious! There's a scene where Lenni who works in a video-store recites names of directors whom you can find there. And it's a non-stop list of about fifty, sixty or maybe even more directors! It's just awesome, you got to see it. I'd include this scene in a top-something list of best scenes in movie history.
Anyway if you watch films not just for fun, you are going to like this one. Especially if you like good-quality European cinema.