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(aka "Camiel Borgman" )


directed by Alex van Warmerdam
Netherlands/Belgium/Denmark 2013


Rousted from his underground bunker by a policeman, a hunter, and a village priest, vagrant Camiel Borgman (Jan Bijvoet, THE BROKEN CIRCLE BREAKDOWN) wanders into suburbia in search of a bath. When he attempts to con his way into the home of TV executive Richard (Jeroen Perceval, BULLHEAD) by feigning a past acquaintance with his high-strung artist wife Marina (Hadewych Minis, LOFT), he ends up soundly thrashed and left bleeding on the lawn. The seemingly clumsy con, however, succeeds in etching the beginnings of a wedge between the couple as Richard starts to doubt what he knows about Marina's past and Marina is horrified by Richard's brutality. When she later discovers Borgman hiding in her tool shed, she lets him take a bath in the house and recuperate in the summer house under the condition that he stay out of sight of her husband and three children (Marina already having sworn au pair Stine [Sara Hjort Ditlevsen] to secrecy). To Marina's unease, Borgman enters and exits the house at will, tells fairy stories to the children - who think he is a magician - and expresses a desire to eat with her "at the big table". When he prepares to leave out of boredom, Marina finds that she wants to play his game without knowing exactly what it is. Borgman subsequently reveals a more sinister intent - to the audience - as he and his network of "agents" set about casually eliminating and assuming the identities of people necessary for their insidious infiltration of the household, marking the family members possibly for death or something else.

A dark twist on BOUDU SAVED FROM DROWNING, the titular BORGMAN and his crew may be extraordinarily ruthless and ruthlessly efficient psychopaths (it becomes apparent that material gain is not their goal so we can't exactly call them con artists) or literal demons in human form (what with their animal familiars, ability to incite dreams, and marking victims). Director Alex van Warmerdam does not seem particularly interested in one interpretation or another so much as maintaining a sense of dread amidst the turns of his unpredictable scenario which seems more deliberate in pacing than in plotting. At best, it can be seen as the unraveling of a family that embodies the worst traits of the complacent classes. Marina refuses Stine's request to have her boyfriend as a guest since she wants to know who comes under her roof, entertains violently masochistic fantasies, and does not seem to object to child labor so long as their efforts are appreciated (like the stuffed animal she gives her daughter). Besides Richard's violence, we are also given a demonstration of his racism as Borgman and company set up several black and immigrant applicants for the position of gardener in order to make Borgman himself seem all the more suitable. When Borgman in the role of the family gardener rebuffs Marina's advances because he cannot sleep with his employer's wife, Marina consents to whatever needs to be done to rectify this (as she had implicitly consented to whatever Borgman needed to do to return to the house in another capacity). The divisions are not so much good and evil as evil and degrees of complicity.

Eric Cotenas


Theatrical Release: 29 August 2013 (Netherlands)

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DVD Review: Drafthouse Films/New Video Group - Region 1 - NTSC

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Review!

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Drafthouse Films/New Video Group

Region 1 - NTSC

Runtime 1:53:16

2.35:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 6.76 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.


Audio Dutch/English Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles English (burnt-in), English (CC), none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Drafthouse Films/New Video Group

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 2.35:1

Edition Details:
• Deleted Scenes (16:9; 6:06)
• Theatrical Trailer (16:9; 2:13)
• Trailers for 'Wrong', 'A Field in England', 'The Act of Killing', and 'Pieta'

DVD Release Date: 9 September 2014

Chapters 12





Drafthouse Films' dual-layer DVD - also available on Blu-ray - of this Arri Alexa-photographed feature is relatively crisp looking and detailed with minute edge enhancement. The 5.1 audio track is used to good effect with the surrounds underlining a sense of dread with natural background noise without going overboard in horror movie fashion. The burnt-in subtitles transcribe the English dialogue (in a rather small font with British-isms like "we've been grassed on") but the had-of-hearing can enable closed-captioning which transcribes only the English dialogue (as well as sound effect and music notations).


The deleted scenes often raise more questions than clarify, and would simply have brought the running time up to two hours without significantly affecting the pacing. The only other extra is a theatrical trailer for the feature and four other Drafthouse Films releases including the recent PIETA.

  - Eric Cotenas


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Drafthouse Films/New Video Group

Region 1 - NTSC


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