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Monday, March 13, 2017

'The Ardennes' DVD: Belgian Take on Coen Brothers Films

International art-house flick distributor Film Movement greatly furthers the cause of its Film of the Month Club with the (available to all) March 7, 2017 DVD release of the 2015 Belgian drama "The Ardennes." This tale of two brothers who are literal partners-in-crime becoming embroiled in a perverse series of unfortunate events that jealousy and resentment fuel elicits strong thoughts of the darker Coen Brothers films. This crime-oriented story of complicated family relationships also can be considered Euro "Prison Break."

The festival accolades for Movement titles this time primarily relate to essentially sweeping the 2016 Film Festival Oostende. The Movement "why we  selected statement regarding this one reflects that quality in declaring "THE ARDENNES is that transcendent genre picture that Film Movement always loves to find."

The following YouTube clip of the Movement trailer for "Ardennes" artistically emphasizes the Coenness of the film.

"Ardennes" begins with petty criminal Dave fleeing the scene of a minor felony gone bad and leaving his brother Kenny figuratively (if not literally) holding the bag.

The action soon moves ahead four years. Kenny is being sprung from his unfortunate incarceration, and Dave has traded a life of crime for a dead-end job at a car wash. The other big development is that Kenny ex/former drug addict and gun moll Sylvie now is a waitress in a cocktail bar and is living with baby daddy Dave, who is waiting for the right moment to tell his brother about that turn of events.

That omission of fact plays a large role in a wacky misunderstanding that turns deadly. That in turn sends our boys into the titular mountains, which have additionally symbolic value, to seek assistance from the former cellie of Kenny. That is when writer/director Robin Pront really channels les freres Coen.

This wild night additionally involves Dave facing peril at the hands of a woman scorned. The ensuing mayhem nicely illustrates the frustration that Dave feels regarding past and present feelings of guilt regarding his treatment of Kenny, not to mention how badly the reformed life of Dave has gone off the rails sine Kenny has stopped being a guest of the king.

Pront does save the best gory fun for last. He does not have a wood chipper but makes do with the tools at hand.

The short that accompanies the Club selection nicely pairs "Ardennes" with the 15-minute Pront film "Injury Time." This one revolves brutal retaliation for the savage beating of a football (my people call it soccer) fan. It has the same sense and sensibility as the main feature. However, the intensity is even stronger and the finale is more dramatic.

The DVD special features include a "making of" documentary and interviews with Pront and Kenny portrayor Kevin Janssens.)

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Ardemnes" is encouraged to email me; you also can connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy,