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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The grimness of living
Few films which have been so critically lauded as 'Flanders' has (its accolades including winning Cannes' Grand Prix), have met with such criticism as this film has. Viewed by some as a dark, unflinching masterpiece, and by others as a pretentious exercise in shock tactics, opinion on 'Flanders' varies wildly. I personally found Flanders to be an excellent, if flawed...
Published on 22 Mar 2012 by Mr. D Burin

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4 of 19 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Dont waste your time!!
This has to be the worst film I've ever seen. How it got the "Grand prix" at the Cannes festival is just beyond me. It is extremely boring and the story line is practically non-existant. I watched it to the end hoping it would improve but there's nothing enjoyable about it unless you've a penchant for violence.
Unfortunately, this set-up would not allow me to give it...
Published on 5 Nov 2007 by mabelle4u


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The grimness of living, 22 Mar 2012
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This review is from: Flanders [DVD] (DVD)
Few films which have been so critically lauded as 'Flanders' has (its accolades including winning Cannes' Grand Prix), have met with such criticism as this film has. Viewed by some as a dark, unflinching masterpiece, and by others as a pretentious exercise in shock tactics, opinion on 'Flanders' varies wildly. I personally found Flanders to be an excellent, if flawed work, but in reviewing this; am adding the caveat that this certainly doesn't seem to be a film which will appeal to everyone.

'Flanders' tells the story of Demester, a rural farmer who goes off to fight in a brutal, unnamed conflict, alongside others from his rural district; including Blondin, the cocky charmer who has stolen Demester's love, the selfish and fragile Barbe, from his arms. 'Flanders' is an highly uncomfortable film to watch, but also an extremely powerful one. Dumont focuses on the troubled depth of the individual, the tendencies towards madness and barbarism, and the unspoken. The film is full of unsaid words, such as when Dumont is forced to sit next to Barbe, whilst she passionately kisses Blondin. The film's violence is startling, but, I would argue, is far from being just the stuff of 'shock value'. Through the depictions of rape, child murder and, most graphically, a genital mutilation; Dumont intimates the easiness with which one can become desensitised and brutalised. The conflict, additionally, is set in an unnamed land. Far from this being locational laziness from Dumont, it highlights the absurdity of war, and also promotes the notion that this could be any two groups of people killing each other sadistically. Dumont's vision of the individual is a commendably complex one; as we also see love and affection filtered in, although they are often tinged with cruelty; like Barbe's unabashed attitude towards her love of Blondin, when she talks to Demester.

There are admittedly flaws in 'Flanders'. Sections of the film, especially those shot in Demester's rural Nord-pas-du-Calais, drag on for too long. Admittedly, Dumont is attempting to highlight the mundanity of life, but the viewer gets this point quickly - long before most of these sections are over. The sexuality of the film is also a little unrealistic, with characters literally rolling in the haystacks (this is rural country, after all!) with anyone else who happens to be on screen, to a point where it becomes a little unrealistic. Finally, Barbe is too dislikeable a character for us to sympathise with in the way Dumont seems to want us to; her actions overwhelming some of the potential sympathy we may have for her. Still, despite these admitted flaws, 'Flanders' is a startling, thought-provoking and grimly engaging piece of cinema, which, whilst not to everyone's tastes, has the power to remain in the mind long after the credits roll.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Indifference & Intimacy, 16 May 2011
By 
Alan Fair (uk) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Flanders [DVD] (DVD)
When we discuss the cinema we often use categories that function to produce a particular form of response; we may talk about genre films, about block busters etc.
When we talk about auteur cinema or, more often today, personal cinema, what we are describing, in some senses, is the type of contract we engage in when watching the film. In the case of Bruno Dumont's films we are signing a contract with the film maker that demands a specific kind of relationship to the work. We already understand that we are not going to be watching a film such as 'Titanic' or 'Invasion L.A.' Dumont has already asked us to respond in a particular way, most likely we have seen other films by him or at least have some sense of what to expect just as we might expect a certain type of film from, let's say, Michael Bay.
The title of this film already evokes a series of semantic possibilities, for us in northern Europe at least, the name Flanders is not just the geographical space but it is also the historical space of a particular moment of barbarity, the name reminds us, just as 'Bull Run' might remind a citizen of the United States of America of war, not just any kind of war but of a particular type of "up-close" military engagement. Dumont's use of the title is clearly meant to position us in relation to the film in a particular way.
The fact that the film is set in the present and is also set, to begin with at least, in a rural community is clearly provocative. Dumont asks us to think dialectically, we are asked not only to read the film in terms of its aesthetic, it is relentlessly realist, but he also requires a recognition of its allegorical function.
We are first offered a series of stark views of the bucolic as lacking in finesse, sex is carried out between humans in much the same way as it is transacted by farm animals. Sex is not the domain of the romantic, classical Hollywood scenario, rather it is the functional articulation of something less than lust. Dumont sets us up by this series of episodes so that by the time we see the male characters now transported to an unnamed (middle eastern?) war zone, we are already desensitised to their approach to life (sex & violence). Their's is a world where the possible intimacies of the human condition rarely engender more than indifference. They act in the world, one might argue, in the ways in which the world acts on them.
Without saying too much about the plot, it is enough to say that what is clear is that the director, through the use of stark imagery and functional dialogue has demanded of his audience a critical, un-heroic, reading of the microcosm of masculinity and its macro-cosmic effects. This film is nowhere near as shocking in its depiction of sex and violence as, let's say, 'The Fast & The Furious 5' What it is is clinically honest about how statecraft that is represented through the media has little to do with the actuality of its effects on ordinary working class people. Unlike most 'war movies' this is almost a chamber piece that seeks understanding rather than spectacle. I guess the closest U.S. film to this is the Brian De Palma Vietnam film 'Casualties of War'. Sometimes a film can be immensely affective without being enjoyable, this is one such work.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Confront the horror, don't run from it, 11 July 2008
By 
Keris Nine - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Flanders [DVD] (DVD)
Judging by the reactions thus far from previous comments to this film, the sheer force of Bruno Dumont's singular vision with its incessant emotional, physical and sexual violence is clearly too much for some people's sensibilities. If the bleakness, bitterness and pessimism of Flanders weigh heavily or the relentless brutality of the film causes offense however, that is certainly the film's intention.

Plainly presented and unadorned by allegory, symbolism or didacticism, never patronising the viewer or browbeating them to take a calculatedly predetermined and politically-correct stance, Dumont pushes boundaries of realism into pure expressionism. Flanders is a film that must simply be felt. Whether that response is compassion for the characters or revulsion matters not, and it certainly has no bearing on assessments of the quality of the film. Its purpose is to challenge the viewer and force them to confront sensations they may not wish to acknowledge, but are inherently part of human nature. And by any standard, Flanders certainly achieves that, brilliantly and forcefully.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Study in Human Sexuality and Violence, 31 Jan 2009
By 
Eric John (Planet Earth) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Flanders [DVD] (DVD)
This isn't a movie you pop in the DVD player on Saturday night to escape the week.
(Although I love those, too.) It is an intense film, both visually and psychologically.

Don't pay too much attention to the one star reviews here. Frankly, either you appreciate this genre, or not. If you do, then it is definitely worth a view.

(I also recommend 'Beau Travail' by Claire Denis.)
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5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece that is uncomfortable, 18 Mar 2014
By 
F. L. P. Souza (Amstelveen, The Netherlands) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Flanders [DVD] (DVD)
This is one of the most realistic films I've ever seen, and precisely because of that, it will not appeal to many... especially to those who prefer entertaining films. If you think "A Bridge Too Far" or "Platoon" showed the horrors of war, that was nothing. Flanders shows the world as it really is: stupid people in a farm doing stupid things, then going on to do stupid things in a senseless war. This is not "politically correct", but this is reality.

In real life, Tom Cruise types don't go to Afghanistan; the soldiers don't look like Brad Pitt and the girlfriends they left behind are not Scarlet Johansen look-alikes.

Bruno Dumont does not use actors, he uses real people; that makes a huge difference in terms of realism. You feel like you're watching reality on the screen, not a glamourised version of it.

If you enjoyed "Iron Man 3", stay clear from "Flanders"... This is wine from a very different casket. More like Haneke's "Amour".
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8 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not for lightweights., 28 Feb 2008
This review is from: Flanders [DVD] (DVD)
Bruno Dumont's films are incredibly divisive (as can be evidenced from the four philistines who've reviewed this film here so far).

This film is monumental (as are Dumont's previous three films). If you like Antonioni, Tarkovsky, Kubrick, Hou, Mizoguchi, Bresson, Godard, Renoir, Tarr -- then this is the man for you.
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4 of 19 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Dont waste your time!!, 5 Nov 2007
This review is from: Flanders [DVD] (DVD)
This has to be the worst film I've ever seen. How it got the "Grand prix" at the Cannes festival is just beyond me. It is extremely boring and the story line is practically non-existant. I watched it to the end hoping it would improve but there's nothing enjoyable about it unless you've a penchant for violence.
Unfortunately, this set-up would not allow me to give it 0 star.
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0 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A depressing, slow moving film, 26 Mar 2008
By 
M. Eccles - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Flanders [DVD] (DVD)
I'm a big fan of foreign language films however this film stretched even my patience. Unless you are a real movie buff into the arthouse style and enjoy watching a film for 'arts' sake you will almost certainly hate this film. There is virtually no script, it is impossible to feel any empathy with any of the characters and the whole 'plot' is unbelievably depressing, violent and miserable. I just didn't care about what happened which is never a good sign. I, like other reviewers, kept waiting for the film to throw out a golden nugget and show me how and why it won the Grand Prix at Cannes. That moment of brilliance never came and I was thrilled when the final credits rolled - easily the best moment of the whole film!
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0 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Urk, 6 Jan 2008
By 
P. R. Gregory (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Flanders [DVD] (DVD)
Let me echo the sentiments of the preceding reviewers - this film is a waste of time unless you're into predictable yet unbelievable violence or dysfunctional rural types in northeast France. While not quite as dreary as L'Humanite, Flandres covers the same territory of ugly people in an ugly landscape occasionally saying or doing ugly things to each other. Then it moves to an unnamed Muslim country (think arid mountains and turbans) where ugly people in an ugly landscape do very ugly things quite often to other people and have very ugly things done to them. C'est tout. How this dour little exercise in futility won the Grand Prix at Cannes must remain, I think, one of those little Gallic mysteries that bewilder everyone who isn't French.
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1 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A real turkey, 26 Dec 2007
By 
Bazz2004 (Willenhall,, West Midlands United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Flanders [DVD] (DVD)
I fully agree with the first reviewer. This is a consistently bad film which I also made the mistake of watching until the end. It has a cast of wooden, monosyllabic actors and a weak plot.
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Flanders [DVD]
Flanders [DVD] by Bruno Dumont (DVD - 2007)
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