Flanders review

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Finding form after the disastrous Twentynine Palms, Belgian provocateur Bruno Dumont casts a customarily sedate eye over the barbarity of war with this rewarding, if demanding, fourth feature. Monosyllabic farm-boy Andre (Samuel Boidin) is drafted to fight in the Middle East, leaving behind on/off girlfriend Barbe (Adélaïde Leroux) who alleviates the boredom by offering up her body to the more-than-willing locals. Fans of the director’s work will notice his usual tics and traits: strikingly composed scenes of the Belgian countryside, grisly and defiantly un-erotic sex as well as the odd jolt of extreme violence. While the impressively unconventional combat scenes echo both Full Metal Jacket and Casualties Of War, the dour message it delivers doesn’t so much suggest that war is hell, but that existence certainly is.

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