Foreign Oscar Entry Review: Blind Spot (Doudege Wénkel)

Reviews
by Carlos Aguilar
November 30, 2013 6:30 PM
2 Comments
  • |
Christophe Wagner's 'Blind Spot'

Blind Spot, Luxembourg's Submission for the Academy Award Nomination for Best Foreign Language Film. U.S. : None Yet. Production Company: Samsa Film


Probably because of the thin line between righteousness and immorality that characters in Police Dramas are forced to walk, the subgenre is still attractive to audiences even if the premises are for the most part, constantly replicated. The lone ambivalent anti-hero is usually a devoted cop, often with a family to protect or an unlikely love interest and his convictions clash with a corrupted higher-up or organized crime from within his same institution. Been there done than time and time again. Luckily, and pleasantly surprising, Luxembourgish filmmaker Christophe Wagner’s Blind Spot is undoubtedly an incredibly inventive fresh take on the established conventions.

Flowing with a carefully arranged tension the film stands out because of its originality in a realm often plagued with predicable plots and far fetched twists. Suspended from duty after a brawl with a fellow officer, Oliver Faber (Jules Werner) secretly indulges in sexual pleasures with another man. That very same night, leaving no fingerprints at the scene, an astute killer apparently murders his brother, Tom Faber (Mickey Hardt), also a policeman. In spite of obvious concerns of his emotional involvement with the case, Oliver is asked to take part in the investigation. As if the sudden death of his sibling were not enough, his personal life is also in distress as his mother questions his tumultuous behavior and inquires on his relationship with his estranged wife Marie (Gintare Parulyte).

His boss, Inspector Hastert (André Jung), thinks he has possible leads that involve a Bosnian man, the wealthy and corrupt businessman, Mr. Beaulieue (Patrick Descamps).  The exposé of his illicit activities outside Luxembourg by Tom. Blindly, Oliver and his teammates put their lives at risk but do not she any light on the truth.  As he deals with his own identity crisis, Oliver begins to peel off the layers of ulterior motives behind one singular crime.  Someone’s calibrated personal vendetta, a suicide, and a stunning revelation that will change his perception of his loved one, are all in store for him to discover.

Unlike the one-note performances from the Stathams, the Wahlbergs and other cookie-cutter action heroes to which American viewers are accustomed, the protagonist here is intelligently multifaceted.  Oliver’s motivations are fueled by the secret lives he lives in order to fulfill his family's and his own career expectations. The hyper-masculinity that comes with these super-heroes serves mostly to give simple reasons for the recklessness of their actions. They are committed by man’s men who will stop at nothing to uphold what is right, while also pursuing the clichéd hot sexual encounter that is always placed before the final face-off. Not here. Oliver’s façade as a tough machismo-driven guy is a defense mechanism to hide his sexual orientation which is seen as a weakness and would be used against him by his fellow officers. Unafraid and bold, Wagner’s leading man is one of a kind thanks to a astonishing performance by Jules Werner. He is flesh, bone, anguish, anger and all the nuances in between that conform a closeted homosexual man seeking not only to solve his brother’s death and protect his honor but also to prove his value to himself.

Formidably written and perfectly acted, Blind Spot innovatively elevates the genre and ventures into truly daring territory with a less than unlikely lead full of complexities. Christophe Wagner’s direction is not only proficient in creating the uneasy enticing atmosphere needed, his puzzling narrative is also edgy. There is no room for the overkill of the commonplace storylines indigenous to Hollywood. Instead, toying with those very predispositions, the film turns out to be something less fabricated and more grounded in reality which is definitely an achievement in such a crowded field.  Placing Luxembourg in the spotlight of the cinematic landscape, the director takes advantage of the surprise factor that a film coming from the tiny nation contains and by doing so, he delivers a real success.

Read more about all the 76 Best Foreign Language Film Submission for the 2014 Academy Awards
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2 Comments

  • MF | March 9, 2014 4:41 AMReply

    A word about Luxembourg. Let s speak about exportable movies with actors that can make it big both in the USA and internationally.

    Being able to speak proper English is quite essential. As a plus, French can also be exportable in a certain extent. Although interesting, NATIONAL films will stay national films. We are not against the idea that some may be offering a great story though.

    Recently, except MObius, we could not really see any other exportable movies being screened here in the USA. It had some action. Not saying that MObius was a very successful movie, but two Luxembourgish actors, such as Dean Constantin and Jules Werner were greatly exportable through it. We did like them. Despite their minimal involvement, they were the lucky ones acting with some, how they call them nowadays: more bankable actors. However, both of them speak perfect English/American and have more than what it takes to make it big, while some stars are messing it up completely. There you go, Luxembourg has much more to sell now: two additional names with endless potential. Blind Spot offers something as well but instead of putting Jules Werner and Dean Constantin together and make an exportable bloody movie with guts and explosive power out of it, they end up turning it into a local village cliche. Somehow, it worked over there. Great production company for sure. This movie was ready to make it. Maybe a next time. But this is all good. Luxembourg has already made a name in Hollywood through an animation short film in 2014. Mr Hublot did deserve its Oscar. Great work.

    Taking right advantage of this opportunity is managing the upcoming years the right way. Although only a bunch, Luxembourg has some great actors/screenwriters/directors with powerful stories. What they do not have is movies with American guts that can sell it abroad and have theaters packed. Some directors keep seeking abroad instead of exporting their own talents. Do you know that some actors such as: Dean Constantin and a few others, were signed by American Productions because they were directors’ choices and were finally dropped by some of their own producers for fuming reasons? Other reasons? It appears they were not bankable enough. But they were directors’ choice after all, and here we speak about internationally acclaimed directors that made great movies and were about to make of these actors something more than simply bankable.

    In fact, some Producers were and keep being strangely blind. An actor becomes bankable if you sign him and cast him the right way. Short, medium, tall, fat, skinny: who cares. Actors are allowed to be everything they want. Here in the USA, the dream is still palpable. A country where non bankable actors from 5 to 7 foot tall end up stars and die legends because we always had directors with guts and non destructive ego in front of charisma. Producers that do not take the final decision allow talents to shine for good. USA can take a homeless banjo player of 98 years old out of streets and bring him to the Oscars. Luxembourg has actors with everything it takes to show up in Hollywood and investors keep looking for the Super-ball Jackpot somewhere over the rainbow. It is time to cast them the right way and avoid Cinderella stories. Put them face to face with mega-stars and they will bring you what you may be seeking. Success does not rhyme with prices though. Not necessarily. Follow the trends. Bring in some stamina. Breaking the odds pays much more than signing a “whatever” super star than can cost you as much as ten movies and bring you nothing. Yes, sometimes, it happens. This trend keeps growing. Luxembourg needs a board that approves scripts with guts made for mannish actors! Being heterosexual, homosexual, metrosexual, or whatsoever, has nothing to do with being mannish or not. This is all great. Who cares after all.

    We are sure Luxembourg has the scripts, the money and some awesome actors with endless potential to make it big! Make them work and they bring you more statues than you may be expecting. If this is all you are dreaming. It’s been years and years that this wonderful land with growing perspectives keeps hiding actors and screenwriters such as Dean Constantin, Jules Werner and a few others because of this particular wrong ego. Congratulations to Mr Hublot for its desberved Oscar. Our ceremony is now closed. See you next time.

  • MF | March 9, 2014 4:35 AMReply

    A word about Luxembourg. Let’s speak about exportable movies with actors that can make it big both in the USA and internationally.

    Being able to speak proper English is quite essential. As a plus, French can also be exportable in a certain extent. Although interesting, NATIONAL films will stay national films. We are not against the idea that some may be offering a great story though.

    Recently, except Möbius, we could not really see any other exportable movies being screened here in the USA. It had some action. Not saying that Möbius was a very successful movie, but two Luxembourgish actors, such as Dean Constantin and Jules Werner were greatly exportable through it. We did like them. Despite their minimal involvement, they were the lucky ones acting with some, how they call them nowadays: more bankable actors. However, both of them speak perfect English/American and have more than what it takes to make it big, while some stars are messing it up completely. There you go, Luxembourg has much more to sell now: two additional names with endless potential. Blind Spot offers something as well but instead of putting Jules Werner and Dean Constantin together and make an exportable bloody movie with guts and explosive power out of it, they end up turning it into a local village cliché. Somehow, it worked over there. Great production company for sure. This movie was ready to make it. Maybe a next time. But this is all good. Luxembourg has already made a name in Hollywood through an animation short film in 2014. Mr Hublot did deserve its Oscar. Great work.

    Taking right advantage of this opportunity is managing the upcoming years the right way. Although only a bunch, Luxembourg has some great actors/screenwriters/directors with powerful stories. What they do not have is movies with American guts that can sell it abroad and have theaters packed. Some directors keep seeking abroad instead of exporting their own talents. Do you know that some actors such as: Dean Constantin and a few others, were signed by American Productions because they were directors’ choices and were finally dropped by some of their own producers for fuming reasons? Other reasons? It appears they were not bankable enough. But they were directors’ choice after all, and here we speak about internationally acclaimed directors that made great movies and were about to make of these actors something more than simply bankable.

    In fact, some Producers were and keep being strangely blind. An actor becomes bankable if you sign him and cast him the right way. Short, medium, tall, fat, skinny: who cares. Actors are allowed to be everything they want. Here in the USA, the dream is still palpable. A country where non bankable actors from 5’2” to 6’8” end up stars and die legends because we always had directors with guts and non destructive ego in front of charisma. Producers that do not take the final decision allow talents to shine for good. USA can take a homeless banjo player of 98 years old out of streets and bring him to the Oscars. Luxembourg has actors with everything it takes to show up in Hollywood and investors keep looking for the Super-ball Jackpot somewhere over the rainbow. It is time to cast them the right way and avoid Cinderella stories. Put them face to face with mega-stars and they will bring you what you may be seeking. Success does not rhyme with prices though. Not necessarily. Follow the trends. Bring in some stamina. Breaking the odds pays much more than signing a “whatever” super star than can cost you as much as ten movies and bring you nothing. Yes, sometimes, it happens. This trend keeps growing. Luxembourg needs a board that approves scripts with guts made for mannish actors! Being heterosexual, homosexual, metrosexual, or whatsoever, has nothing to do with being mannish or not. This is all great. Who cares after all.

    We are sure Luxembourg has the scripts, the money and some awesome actors with endless potential to make it big! Make them work and they bring you more statues than you may be expecting. If this is all you are dreaming. It’s been years and years that this wonderful land with growing perspectives keeps hiding actors and screenwriters such as Dean Constantin, Jules Werner and a few others because of this particular wrong ego. Congratulations to Mr Hublot for its desberved Oscar. Our ceremony is now closed. See you next time.

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