Borgman – Netherlands, 2013 – reviews

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Borgman is a 2013 Dutch dark thriller feature film written and directed by Alex van Warmerdam about an enigmatic vagrant who enters the lives of an upper-class family and quickly unravels their carefully curated lifestyle.

The movie stars Jan Bijvoet, Hadewych Minis, Jeroen Perceval, Alex van Warmerdam, Tom Dewispelaere, Sara Hjort Ditlevsen, Elve Lijbaart, Dirkje van der Pijl, Pieter-Bas de Waard, Eva van de Wijdeven, Annet Malherbe.



Charming and mysterious, Camiel Borgman seems almost otherworldly, and it isn’t long before he has the wife, children and nanny under his spell in a calculated bid to take over their home life. However, his domestic assimilation takes a malevolent turn as his ultimate plan comes to bear, igniting a series of increasingly maddening and menacing events…


Reviews [click links to read more]:

“For the sake of descriptive economy, it’s tempting to classify “Borgman” (named for its oddly passive-aggressive chief villain) as another entry in the increasingly popular subgenre of the home-invasion thriller, but that would misrepresent the film’s more complex premise. “Home inveigling” or even “home infection” would be closer to the mark: Many of the most horrific domestic violations in this story occur with the permission of the family under threat, lending a Pinter-esque slant to van Warmerdam’s slow-burning narrative.” Guy Lodge, Variety

“The freedom to tell a story absurdly has mostly vanished. What audience conditioned to be literal-minded can put up with it? But van Warmerdam touches his brush lightly, dipping often into violence and vulgarity, and sticking to its commitment from start to finish to never, for one second, make any sense. ” Sasha Stone, The Wrap


“There isn’t necessarily an assertion that it’s this family’s bourgeois complacency that has led to their undoing, instead the focus is on the mercurial and mysterious Borgman, and his semi-supernatural powers of influence and persuasion. So the didactic tone that can sometimes, let’s be honest, make Haneke feel a bit of a slog, is absent here in favor of a playfulness that permeates even the film’s darkest moments…” Jessica Kiang, Indie Wire

“Obviously we’re in creepy, provocative and somewhat ambiguous territory here, but van Warmerdam also brings wit and humor that is often laugh-out-loud hilarious to the proceedings. It’s certainly dark, sterile and deadpan, along with pretty much every stylistic choice in the movie, but also whip-smart, inventive and often very surprising.” Brian Clark, Twitch Film

” …like the bastard child of Luis Buñuel and Micheal Haneke, with the influence of Dogtooth by Yorgos Lanthimos — an unusual, unsettling, and violent demolition of accepted social politics.” Russ Fischer. /Film

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