Waste Land

In Pieter Van Hees’s film WASTE LAND a 19-year-old male is discovered murdered in the Zenne River, Brussels. Detective Woeste (Jérémie Renier) and new partner Johnny (Peter Van den Begin) are assigned to find the killer. But like any grizzled cop, Woeste has problems, so is he up to the task?

WASTE LAND is the final part of Pieter Van Hees’s trilogy ANATOMY OF LOVE AND PAIN. The other films are LEFT BANK (2008) and DIRTY MIND (2009). Acting is the film’s highpoint: Natali Broods, who plays Detective Woeste’s wife, Kathleen, creates a rounded character, always holding something back in order not to fracture the fragile family equilibrium. Peter Van den Begin shines as the new partner, trailblazing his way through the contents of the drug squad’s stronghold. What doesn’t work so well is the film’s second half. When the murder hunt leads to a shop selling voodoo artifacts, Woeste is goaded into touching an ancient statue; the story then changes from a whodunit to a psychological thriller. During the second half we learn more about Woeste as he sinks into despair and paranoia; but unfortunately the whodunit mystery was so much more interesting.

This is a well-worn genre film that doesn’t offer anything new, but for an easy watch it is fine. In Britain there is a post-Sunday roast dinner tradition, and that is to curl up on the sofa and enjoy a psychological crime drama; WASTE LAND is the perfect Sunday night film.

WASTE LAND screens on 10 September at 22.30 at APH


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