Demester (Samuel Bodin) works a farm in the fields of the French region known in English as Flanders; once upon a time, these were the battlefields of the Great War. Earth that was cut into trenches or dotted with corpses now yields to the plow and gives up life. Barbe (Adelaïde Leroux) has known Demester since they were kids. They know each other well enough; now and then, they walk to the woods and have sex -- furtively, briefly. Demester is being called up to fight in a faraway land, however, and Barbe's spirit is being crushed from within. ...

Flandres is written and directed by Bruno Dumont, whose previous film, 29 Palms, stands out for me as one of the most muddled and unpleasant films I've ever witnessed. Flandres is in a similar vein -- slow, turgid, bleak and brutal -- and watching Dumont try and craft allegories and deeper meanings out of the petty interactions of his thinly-crafted characters and their meaningless actions and cruelties is a bitter experience.

categories Reviews, Cinematical