Bruno Dumont’s minimalist study of war

Bruno Dumont’s notably minimalist style is again prevalent in this two-tiered film. Demester is a farmer in the north of France and part of a small community that also includes his far from official girlfriend, Barbe, and Blondel, one of her many lovers. Demester and Blondel are conscripted to an anonymous war in which the horrors are all too familiar yet captured in harrowing style. Back home, Barbe’s life isn’t any happier.

Flanders demonstrates that war leads to dehumanisation, desperation and barbaric extremities. The contrast between the dank, muddy fields of France and the arid heat of the desert accentuates that this is a war in which the protagonists are innocent of any blame for. Not that this is a real revelation, but it’s rarely shown with such severity.

Dumont’s minimalism is alienating at times, particularly in the protracted opening scene that spends plenty of time saying very little. Flanders demands utmost patience that will immerse and bore audiences in equal measure.

Ben Hopkins

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