Reviews - Specialty Releases


Film Review: Black Out

Diverting and well-cast but wholly unoriginal.

Feb 20, 2014

-By John DeFore


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1394588-Blackout_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

An underworld pastiche that wears its many influences proudly, Arne Toonen's Black Out occasionally preempts a ready-to-complain viewer by having its own characters do the work—the vengeful crime lord, for instance, who uses Al Pacino's famous "pulling me back in" line to describe his victim's plight. With originality a moot point, the Dutch film has just enough panache to please hungry genre buffs; theatrical bookings will be short-lived, but it may have a respectable life on VOD.

The guy being unwillingly drawn back to the felonious life is Jos (Raymond Thiry), who years ago gave up the enforcement biz for a job waiting tables. There he met Caroline (Kim Van Kooten), fell in love, and convinced her to marry him over the protests of her upper-crust lawyer father Rudolf (Ursul de Geer).

Tomorrow's their wedding day, but Jos wakes up with a hangover and some very big problems of a very familiar nature: a dead man he doesn't recognize in his bed, former associates claiming he's stolen 20 kilos of their cocaine, long gaps in his memory, and so on. For the rest of this hectic day, Jos will dodge calls from his fiancée while reconnecting with former friends and enemies, trying to resolve his many issues while deducing what happened to him in the last day or two.

These characters are artificially unusual in the manner of contemporary crime pix—the gay Russian gangster who used to dance for the Bolshoi; the sexpot sisters who work as enforcers; the drug dealers who'd rather be dog groomers. But if the script's adherence to this convention is lazy, Toonen allows his almost uniformly strong cast to underplay the quirks; their performances have more personality than they'd seem to on the page. Thiry, in particular, brings a taciturn masculinity that carries the film along.

If this vision of Amsterdam's seedy side recalls the London of Guy Ritchie and the Los Angeles of Quentin Tarantino, Toonen is smart not to try to mimic Ritchie's adrenalized style or Tarantino's Pop-savant cool. The movie seems to know it's not their equal and, in owning up to its many points of reference, asks us not to judge harshly but to go along for the ride. Placing a gangster's secret HQ right behind the pins in a bowling alley may be one genre-nod too many, reminding us of the infinite invention the Coen Brothers brought to a similar I-don't-have-your-money tale in The Big Lebowski. But it's the only hint of unfulfilled ambition in this predictable but enjoyable programmer.

The Hollywood Reporter


Film Review: Black Out

Diverting and well-cast but wholly unoriginal.

Feb 20, 2014

-By John DeFore


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1394588-Blackout_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

An underworld pastiche that wears its many influences proudly, Arne Toonen's Black Out occasionally preempts a ready-to-complain viewer by having its own characters do the work—the vengeful crime lord, for instance, who uses Al Pacino's famous "pulling me back in" line to describe his victim's plight. With originality a moot point, the Dutch film has just enough panache to please hungry genre buffs; theatrical bookings will be short-lived, but it may have a respectable life on VOD.

The guy being unwillingly drawn back to the felonious life is Jos (Raymond Thiry), who years ago gave up the enforcement biz for a job waiting tables. There he met Caroline (Kim Van Kooten), fell in love, and convinced her to marry him over the protests of her upper-crust lawyer father Rudolf (Ursul de Geer).

Tomorrow's their wedding day, but Jos wakes up with a hangover and some very big problems of a very familiar nature: a dead man he doesn't recognize in his bed, former associates claiming he's stolen 20 kilos of their cocaine, long gaps in his memory, and so on. For the rest of this hectic day, Jos will dodge calls from his fiancée while reconnecting with former friends and enemies, trying to resolve his many issues while deducing what happened to him in the last day or two.

These characters are artificially unusual in the manner of contemporary crime pix—the gay Russian gangster who used to dance for the Bolshoi; the sexpot sisters who work as enforcers; the drug dealers who'd rather be dog groomers. But if the script's adherence to this convention is lazy, Toonen allows his almost uniformly strong cast to underplay the quirks; their performances have more personality than they'd seem to on the page. Thiry, in particular, brings a taciturn masculinity that carries the film along.

If this vision of Amsterdam's seedy side recalls the London of Guy Ritchie and the Los Angeles of Quentin Tarantino, Toonen is smart not to try to mimic Ritchie's adrenalized style or Tarantino's Pop-savant cool. The movie seems to know it's not their equal and, in owning up to its many points of reference, asks us not to judge harshly but to go along for the ride. Placing a gangster's secret HQ right behind the pins in a bowling alley may be one genre-nod too many, reminding us of the infinite invention the Coen Brothers brought to a similar I-don't-have-your-money tale in The Big Lebowski. But it's the only hint of unfulfilled ambition in this predictable but enjoyable programmer.

The Hollywood Reporter
Post a Comment
Asterisk (*) is a required field.
* Author: 
Rate This Article: (1=Bad, 5=Perfect)

*Comment:
 

More Specialty Releases

Kingdom of Dreams and Madness
Film Review: The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness

Venture inside the hallowed hallways of Japan's most prestigious animation studio in this insightful documentary. More »

Antarctica: A  Year On Ice
Film Review: Antarctica: A Year on Ice

Thrilling, award-winning New Zealand doc about the mysterious and forbidding continent at the bottom of the world is not your usual travelogue, but a surprising exploration of the human soul and human needs. Happily, adorable penguins and stunning visuals also get screen time. More »

Remote Area Medical
Film Review: Remote Area Medical

Doc offers in-the-trenches evidence of dire need in the U.S. health-care system. More »

Immortalists
Film Review: The Immortalists

Attention-grabbing subject meets colorful characters in this science doc. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

Penguins of Madagascar
Film Review: Penguins of Madagascar

Frenetic vehicle for supporting players from the Madagascar films will entertain kids but prove a little wearying for their parents. More »

imitation game
Film Review: The Imitation Game

Terrific biopic about world-class mathematician and social misfit Alan Turing, who, in spite of a painful struggle with his homosexuality, helped the Allies break the code of the Nazis' Enigma machine. More »

Player for the Film Journal International website.


ADVERTISEMENT



INDUSTRY GUIDES

» Blue Sheets
FJI's guide to upcoming movie releases, including films in production and development. Check back weekly for the latest additions.

» Distribution Guide
» Equipment Guide
» Exhibition Guide

ORDER A PRINT SUBSCRIPTION

Film Journal International

Subscribe to the monthly print edition of Film Journal International and get the full visual impact of this valuable resource for the cinema business.

» Click Here

SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

Learn how to promote your company at the Film Expo Group events: ShowEast, CineEurope, and CineAsia.

» Click Here