14 October 2021

Rémy Belvaux's C'est arrivé près de chez vous | Man Bites Dog (1992)

Rémy Belvaux's C'est arrivé près de chez vous (which is rather sensationally translated as Man Bites Dog) is a brilliant but much misunderstood first feature: certainly it is overlong and repetitive, but it can hardly be accused of gratuitous violence because that is the whole point. This film is essentially a profound criticism of, and satire on, the media's approach to violence, the fact that the media wallows in violence in order to capture its audience, to make more money. This is a mockumentary starring casual serial killer Ben (Benoît Poelvoorde), who is followed all the time by Belvaux and André Bonzel, with all of them more or less carrying their own first names.

As the film continues, the two members of the crew (at first distant) become increasingly involved in Ben's murders: they even gang rape one of his victims before him, and help him dispose of his bodies, which he weighs down with concrete ballast so they won't float to the surface. This activity is symbolised at one point when Ben is drinking with the other two, when he plays a game with them in a bar, in which he submerges an olive attached to a sugar cube in each of their drinks and the loser, whose olive floats to the surface first, has to buy the next round. He calls the game 'le petit Grégory', referring to the (still unsolved) murder of the fifteen-year-old Grégory Villemin in 1984, whose body was fished out of the Valogne. I learn that 'le petit Grégory' is translated by the expression 'Dead Little Boy'! Great film, but it's a pity about the sub-titling.

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