Another TNM First Look, vegans and vegetarians need not apply. It’s no secret that we here at The Nerd Mentality love all kinds of film. Recently, our friends at Artsploitation Films asked us to review time traveling dark comedy Counter Clockwise. This week they wanted to see what we thought of 2010 film Meat; a film from the Netherlands which they picked up for U.S. distribution. Like Counter Clockwise I wanted to go into the film blind since I had not heard of it prior. The short description I was given was that of “erotic thriller”. Who can say no to that? It is safe to say my interest was piqued.
The film begins with some rather artful imagery of the nude female form. I’m always wary of openings like this because it seems to just be there for the sake of showing a nude woman and not often having anything to do with the film itself. Cut to a flower for ten seconds and then to another/the same nude women in the tub. Then the movie truly begins and we start to meet our cast. Titus Muizelaar takes on double duty as both a bumbling and inept Inspector, and also as a sex crazed lustful butcher who never does get a name. Much of the early part of the film resolves around their interaction with women. Inspector Mann deals with a jilted lover that he wants nothing to do with, while the Butcher is knocking boots with his boss and also fawning over his young school aged apprentice named Roxy. It’s an HR nightmare all over the place. The film takes a sharp deviation when a murder takes place and the parallel story arcs converge.
Surprisingly, between the title, the setting in the butcher shop, and being a foreign indie film, I thought there was going to be quite a bit of gore/horror, but that was not the case. However, if you are easily sickened by skinned animals and other carcasses that would be found in a butcher shop, then keep the barf bags handy. I feel like there is a beautiful artistry present in Meat. The acting is above average and really captures the emotionless, lonely presence that permeates these characters. Much on the film’s cinematography is wonderfully shot and highlights the grit and despair in their lives. The score and sound mix feel alive and resonate nicely. The film is all in Dutch with English subtitles; unfortunately the subtitles were wrong in a few places. A few clearly spoken English words were given completely different subs that didn’t fit the context of the narrative. Hopefully those will be fixed prior to the home media release.
While I liked a lot that Meat had to offer in the way of visuals and world building, it feels incomplete. Many issues and characters are glossed over and never heard from again. There is little to no resolution, which can be fine in some film, but just feels disjointed here. Some of the depravity and disillusion that Roxy endures could have made an interesting ending and conclusion. I’m not one for filling a movie with a ton of exposition, but when it is almost completely devoid of it, the movie feels like a bunch of separate short films that don’t go together. What I thought was going to turn into a revenge type plot never fully happens, and the viewer is left wondering how to piece together this puzzle of a film. Unfortunately, with the lack of background for the characters, including the disappearance of some completely, and so many unresolved plot lines, you are not just missing a few pieces; you are actually stuck with just the borders.
If you are one that likes a visually interesting world where you can fill in empty places with your imagination, then Meat might be for you. If you need a complete story where at least some of the questions raised while watching it will be answered, then you won’t get it here. I truly can see the type of film the directors were going for, and if there was more “meat” on the bones I would easily recommend. I will be interested to see what kind of features will be on the home media release and see how it fleshes out.
Meat will be available thanks to Artsploitation on Sept. 20th.