By: Addison Wylie
While I watched The Resurrection of a Bastard, I often wondered where Guido van Driel’s movie was headed. It’s so aimless and without a thought in its busy little head until the existential epiphany its despicable lead character has.
However, as soon as I questioned the film, I followed up with another query: Do I even care where this story ends up?
Unless the movie is a slapstick send-up, the crime genre has never really offered a sunny set of films. You go into The Resurrection of a Bastard understanding its inevitable dark atmosphere, but also expecting some twisted chuckles – the Dutch film presents itself as a mobster movie with a special brand of dark comedy. But, Driel (who is also adapting from his graphic novel of the same name with co-screenwriter Bas Blokker) dishes so many unpleasantries towards its audience, that we find our open minds switching to “sleep mode”.
Gangster characters can be sinister people with limited redeeming qualities , but there has to be something for the movie goer to grasp onto in order to materialize some sort of interest. Yorick van Wageningen looks and sounds the part of surly debt collector Ronnie, and even makes us nervously wince when he “gets down to business”. However, Driel slathers on an array of unlikable qualities to Wageningen’s gangster. So, when he does somewhat come around, we have a hard time believing the transition. Other characters who don’t receive an arc like Ronnie’s just remain nasty or obnoxious.
The Resurrection of a Bastard does pull off an impressive stunt though. Driel and Blokker’s screenplay contains those post-Pulp Fiction tendencies that position characters in witty conversations when they’re not executing stylized violence. We’ve seen Tarantino rip-offs that mirror those exact details, but The Resurrection of a Bastard manages to separate itself from that crowd. Driel’s film at least has original strokes and ambition along with these moments of inspiration. It may sluggishly trickle down the pipeline, but the effort is apparent.
There’s only so much ugliness one can take, and I’m afraid The Resurrection of a Bastard pushed me far, far away. The film drifts and waffles as the audience squanders their time on such a depressing outing.