Indie Spotlight is a series focusing on reviews of independent films
A vaguely sinister man invades the life of a suburban family in the dark Dutch fable Borgman. When he is first introduced, Camiel Borgman (Jan Bijvoet) is a bearded hermit, who is forced away from his underground den. Camiel finds his way to the suburban household of Richard and Marina (Jeroen Perceval and Hadewych Minis), who live with their three children and English-speaking nanny Stine (Sara Hjort Ditlevsen). After getting hired as the family’s new gardener, Camiel and his followers begin to put their sinister plan into play.
Borgman is an interesting twist on the home invasion thriller, since even though it becomes clear that Camiel Borgman has sinister intensions for this suburban household, they aren’t entirely clear. In fact, the film opens with a practically dialogue-less scene, where Camiel and his companions are forced out of their underground living quarters by a priest and his companion. The exact reasoning for this sudden eviction is never known, but it does set the stage for the film to come. Camiel also shows himself to be quite the chameleon, since even though he starts off looking like a hermit, there is a point when he cleans himself up and looks like a more normal human being.
Borgman has a vague supernatural element to it, since Camiel and his companions seem to have the ability to enter people’s dreams and influence their opinions of others. This happens to Marina, as she has increasingly violent dreams about her husband Richard, which allows her to to be practically seduced by the handsome stranger Camiel. However, Camiel and his followers seem to have a stronger influence on the couple’s children and Stine. In fact, there is a moment in the film when the youngest daughter Isolde does a particularly shocking act.
While there are indeed many dark and violent moments in Borgman, the film also seems to be a dark comedy at times. While there’s nothing laugh-out-loud funny in the film, there is still a certain dark humour to the way Camiel and his followers behave, particularly in the first half of the film. Despite ultimately being a character with sinister intentions, Camiel Borgman is quite an interesting character throughout and it’s intriguing to find out over the course of the film what his ultimate plan is.
All together, Borgman is a quite interesting dark fable.
8 | LIKED IT
Borgman opens today at the Royal Cinema