Aaltra review

An irreverent Belgian road movie, Aaltra was co-created by its co-stars, Benoît Delépine (writer/director) and Gustave de Kervern (co-writer). They play feuding middle-aged neighbours who have been paralysed from the waist down following an agricultural accident. Despite their mutual loathing, the wheelchair-bound duo embark on a multilingual journey across Europe in an attempt to track down the Finnish manufacturer of the faulty tractor that caused their injuries.

Shot in dreamy black-and-white and graced with numerous visual gags, Aaltra is mercifully free of the sermonising that afflicts so many films involving disabled characters. While there are echoes of the absurdist humour of Aki Kaurismäki (who actually makes an appearance in the final scene), what's refreshing is that the protagonists are cantankerous and deeply selfish individuals. Finding themselves in a succession of bizarre situations, they invariably exploit and abuse those who try to assist them. Clear-eyed, sharp-witted and funny.

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