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Rick McGrath [Celluloid 11.30.10] Netherlands movie review thriller noir



Year: 2010
Directors: Victor Nieuwenhuijs & Maartje Seyferth
Writers: Maartje Seyferth
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: Rick McGrath
Rating: 9 out of 10

When killer Dutch writer/director Maartje Seyferth came up with the concept for Meat, she must have seriously pondered Matthew’s admonition about the flesh being weak in the face of temptation.

And then dropped some acid.

Or she may have considered the wisdom of Oscar Wilde, who claimed the only way to deal with temptation was to give into it.


In Meat, both ideas work, and both are explored. The resultant story is a stunningly rich study of sex and death, pleasure and pain, fantasy and reality – as well as one of the most imaginative damnations of the animal industry you’ll ever experience. Yes, butchers are a tradition that goes back to the domestication of animals, but a butcher is also a metaphor for cruel and deadly people, and Meat certainly has its freezer full of dastardly delmonicos caught in their own obsessions of passive-aggressive sexual dominance and guilt.

Meat is raw. There’s nothing intellectual about animal flesh, and hacking it, cutting it, handling it, arranging it and eating it can apparently bring out the dark animal instincts in some butchers, especially this one, whose prior job was killing cows and sheep in an abattoir. But it’s not animals we’re dealing with here, no, we’re talking meat in all its organistic beauty; meat in which “all the suffering has been suffered“ and what remains is as far from its living source as lust is to love. This meat can drive men to be sexual predators, women to be sexual submissives. This meat, like our flesh, is animal, animalistic, driven by instinct and the self-serving pleasure principle, and it’s powerful enough to lure and destroy its antithesis, the desexualized, dehumanized individual who reveals the metaphoric obverse of our boffing butcher.

Meat is sex. This movie stars the very very attractive Nellie Benner as Roxy the butcher shop girl. Benner, you may remember, first bared all as deeply alienated misfit in 2009’s Crepuscule, also written and co-directed by Seyferth. In Meat, Benner goes way beyond mere nudity into what are essentially scenes of basic, humpo-pumpo sex. We’re not talking porno flick close-ups here, folks, but this is about as realistic as you’re going to get without a gynecology degree. What does link Meat to porno, however, is the objectification of women into genitalia. There’s no real love in Meat, only physical release. There’s no sharing, only personal fantasies. The women who do love are scorned or commit suicide. They’re sheep. The men are all butchers.

Meat is satire. One of the subplots involves an animal rights activist. He also leads his human sheep to the slaughter, and is cruel in his personal relationship with Roxy. And why not? He’s not acting from a love of animals, he’s furthering his own political agenda. In comparison, Meat is a much more powerful indictment of our innate cruelty than merely raiding a slaughterhouse.

Meat your makers. Seyferth & Nieuwenhuijs. What a team. Maartje Seyferth is the writer and co-directs, and Victor Nieuwenhuijs is the cinematographer and co-directs. Usually sharing the vision invites trouble, but this pair works. Yes, Maartje, your plot is amazing, especially the unexpectedly zany ending. So many great little touches. One of her cooler ideas is to arm Roxy with a little video recorder – not only does the recorder represent some form of control and power on Roxy’s part – but it shoots in black & white, and allows Seyferth and Nieuwenhuijs the luxury of revealing similar scenes from two different psychological stances. Likewise you’ll love their use of placing the camera directly over the actors – excellent for keeping penises hidden in sex scenes – and their long, lingering pans over freshly hacked pieces of bloody meat and Nellie Benner’s juicy, lean body. Their use of opposites is wonderful, too, with the butcher shop a thinly disguised animal stall with the dank feel of a basement, set against the light and windows and deadly rationality of the world outside.

Meat is acting. No hammy performances here. As well as the slutty sensuality oozing from Nellie Benner, Meat features a fantastic performance by veteran actor Titus Muizelaar, who charms and sleazes his way through one half of the film, and alienates and persecutes through the other. He’s amazing to watch. Benner is a treat to watch, too, and if you can get past her cute face, long blonde hair and often-nude body, you’ll note she is both an accomplished emotional and physical actor.

Meat is sound. Crepuscule has a great soundtrack, but then again it has no dialogue. Meat has lots of dialogue, but where useful it also incorporates audio to great effect, either as mood-enhancing ambient noise or a hip-pumping beat, with the latter best expressed in a Go-Gos-inspired rocker called “Meatsong” by The Bombitas.

Meat is decorated. This film is so fresh the pixels haven’t dried and already it has gathered awards: at the 2010 St. Petersburg film fest Meat was named Best Film and Titus Muizelaar was given the Best Actor award. At the GSIFF New York 2010 International Film Fest Victor Nieuwenhuijs won the award for Best Cinematography. One suspects this may just be the beginning.

Meat is lean and mean. They say you are what you eat, and it might be interesting to see if viewers can still chomp down dead animals after experiencing this intense attempt to unsuccessfully find life in a world of death. Even if Meat doesn’t ruin your appetite for steaks, it’s for sure going to forever change the way you think about butchers.

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anon (6 years ago) Reply

what a poncy review

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wheatley_s (6 years ago) Reply

where can you find a trailer for this movie?

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c.huju (6 years ago) Reply

Trailer: http://www.moskitofilm.nl/


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