A character drama about a Belgian homicide detective struggling to maintain his humanity, Pieter Van Hees’ Waste Land doesn’t end up amounting to much, but it’s well acted and made by an assured filmmaker.
Jérémie Renier gives a wonderfully nuanced performance as Leo, a cop assigned to high profile, often grisly murder investigations. His team is filled with hedonistic loose cannons, but Leo stays grounded thanks to his wife (Natali Broods) and son. When his wife announces that she’s pregnant, Leo decides he’s going to quit working homicide after taking on one final case: the murder of a young Congolese immigrant that’s tied to stolen relics, professional wrestling, and occult rituals. Things get complicated when Leo gets too close to the victim’s family and he becomes unable to nail down the person he suspects of committing the crime.
By the end of the film, it’s clear that Hees isn’t big on creating resolutions that make a lot of logical sense. It was a problem that similarly plagued, but also didn’t kill, his 2008 thriller Left Bank. This would be a passable, if somewhat inert thriller if not for the work of Renier and Broods.
Renier, sporting a craggy visage and imbuing his character with belvable tics, and Broods, who does an exceptional job conveying the kinds of mixed feelings that can only come from deep love for someone, have a great chemistry that makes their scenes together pop. The mystery stuff is interesting enough and gorgeously shot, but this is a film that’s about personal relationships more than whodunit. (Andrew Parker)
Saturday, September 6th, 9:30pm, Bloor Hot Docs Cinema
Monday, September 8th, 4:30pm, TIFF Bell Lightbox 2
Saturday, September 13th, 6:30pm, Scotiabank 13
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