Stitch together a Buñuelian satire of the bourgeoisie with the enigmatic unease of a Michael Haneke drama and the absurdist humour of Roy Andersson and you begin to have the measure of Borgman, an unsettling, blackly comic fable from veteran Dutch director Alex van Warmerdam (Grimm, The Last Days Of Emma Blank).
A priest leads a hunting party in search of the title character and his followers, who are hiding out in an underground warren. Is Borgman (Jan Bijvoet) a cult leader or the devil in disguise? He escapes and makes his way to leafy suburbia, knocking on doors and politely asking if he might take a bath. Arrogant television producer Richard (Jeroen Perceval) is so incensed by his request and his manner that he punches and kicks him to the ground. Later, his wife Marina (Hadewych Minis) offers Borgman a bath, food and a bed in their guest house. It is her good intentions and complicity with their clandestine guest that paves the way to a kind of hell.
Jan Bijvoet has some of the velvety-voiced confidence of a Christoph Waltz and makes Borgman a calm, eternally reasonable kind of fellow. His ability to bring out the malice lying dormant in the good citizens of suburbia seems effortless. At the other end of the self-control spectrum, Jeroen Perceval is equally impressive as a husband with a trigger-hair temper and pressing anger management issues.
‘Sly, insidious and intermittently hilarious’
‘an engrossing and original work’
The Hollywood Reporter