TIFF 2014: Waste Land

Posted by Jared Bratt September 5, 2014 0 Comment 3801 views

In Waste Land, we follow a homicide-detective down the grim rabbit-hole of Brussels’ crime infested underbelly in hopes that the film’s protagonist gets to peel through the other side and witness the light, the birth of his first biological child with his wife. Now I’m all for a dirty cop-tale chronicling the classic morally stressed head-case/burnout just trying to stay afloat amidst his one last case before leaving the life of cops-and-crime for some well deserved tender-love-and-care, but honestly, something about this film just didn’t jive with me.

Maybe I expected something weirder, perhaps a little crazier and less appropriately typical to the genre, but one thing is for certain, while Waste Land dots every ‘I’ and crosses every ‘T’ when it comes to looking and feeling like a “gritty” film should, this was in fact the main cause of burden for me. Throw in the use of some hand-held work (in which the technical aesthetic here subsequently looses its very luster, feeling more bland than energetic) and color-grade the film’s imagery so every frame seems like it’s been stained beyond belief, and I get it, right? This means I’m watching a gritty narrative and I should feel how in dire-straits Waste Land’s world is… I don’t know, I find this is a very generic approach nowadays to passing films off as being Fincher-esque. Instead (for me) the emulation at play just comes off as feeling more like light stale mimicry. While I do ultimately like where the movie goes, and how the film wraps itself up, I still couldn’t help but feel like I’ve seen this grainy schtick all before (and for the record, I have absolutely zero problem with that) but maybe I wish it was handled  here with some more unique flare.

I’m not saying Waste Land is a bad film by any means (the acting is more than solid and the story works) but I’m merely suggesting that within a festival as monstrous as TIFF has become, when getting to a film involves plowing through crowds of star-gazers, basking in the sun to pick up tickets, or showing up to a venue two hours in advance just get that ever-so perfect seat right in the back of the one eight-foot tall person in the entire theater — Well all I’m saying is that within such a hectic environment (when choice counts because everything is time) I’d probably feel more comfortable only mildly recommending Waste Land. You could do a hell of a lot worse, but lets  not go there…

Watch the Waste Land Trailer


Screening Times for Waste Land

Sat, Sep 6 9:30pm The Bloor Hot Docs Cinema
Mon, Sep 8 4:30pm TIFF Bell Lightbox Cinema 2
Sat, Sep 13 6:30pm Scotiabank Theatre Scotiabank 13

Director(s): Pieter Van Hees
Country: Belgium
Year: 2014
Language: Flemish/French
Premiere Status: World Premiere
Runtime: 97 minutes
Rating: 14A
Producer: Eurydice Gysel, Koen Mortier
Production Company: Epidemic
Principal Cast: Jérémie Renier, Natali Broods, Babetida Sadjo, Peter van den Begin, Mourade Zeguendi
Screenplay: Pieter Van Hees
Cinematographer: Menno Mans
Editor: Nico Leunen
Sound: Marc Engels, Senjan Jansen, Mathieu Cox
Music: Simon Lenski
Production Designer: Geert Paredis
International Sales Agent: Be for Films
Still image from "Waste Land" Still image from "Waste Land" Still image from "Waste Land" Still image from "Waste Land"

About Jared Bratt

Born and raised in Montreal, now based in Toronto,
Jared is a writer/actor/editor/director keeping up the
good fight against all things non-creative & soul-sucking.

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