There is something very eerie about Alex van Warmerdam's latest film Grimm (2003). Loosely based on the famous story by Brothers Grimm (remember Hansel and Gretel?) this modern-day fairytale feels like the odd child of the late Luis Bunuel, the inspiring Fernando Arabal, and perhaps an angry yet ready to entertain Alex de la Iglesia. A real mind-bender of a film where logic seems to be an unknown term Grimm defies just about any categorization you might want to come up with. Still…let's give it a try!!
Maria (Halina Reijn) and Jacob (Jacob Derwig) are abandoned by their father, a grumpy old man, in the nearby forest with nothing else but a short note announcing that they have to find their uncle who now lives in Spain. Quickly realizing that they are no longer needed Maria and Jacob embark on a journey to sunny Spain leaving behind grey and unfriendly Holland. During their trip they will encounter an aggressive and very horny middle-aged housewife, an abandoned Spanish village with a friendly donkey, and a desperate doctor looking for a kidney donor. With other words Grimm offers all the necessary ingredients for an engaging and utterly sophisticated story. Right…
It seems to me there is a very good reason why Alex van Warmerdam has titled his film Grimm. There is just too much dark humor and odd perverted twists in this story that will surely make audiences scratch their heads in disbelief. Certainly mixed as an art-house feature with plenty of controversial flavors, from incestuous overtones to comedy exploits, Grimm simply does not abide to any of the genre rules even Alex de la Iglesia tends to follow. But then, precisely what genre are we talking about, is this comedy, satire, or "other"?
After the initial twenty minutes I honestly thought that Grimm was too inconsistent even for my taste and was ready to let it go peacefully. The only thing that kept my eyes glued to the screen was the directors' name and his reputation among European cinephilles for being rather extravagant. I was even ready to accept that this was a typical Dutch flair that both I and the rest of Holland will agree won't impress me…at least not tonight. And then it just happened…I was so perplexed by the lack of logic in this film that I began liking it. Grimm quickly evolved into a spectacle where just about everything looked well-thought of and utterly original. I suppose all the weirdness of this Dutch production truly caught up with me.
I think it is fair to say that if you like dark humor, in fact the darkest kind, with plenty of illogical turns Grimm comes highly recommended. These types of films certainly don't come around often enough and as far as I am concerned they are truly part of the old "cult" favorites that you would typically find on the "Other" shelf at your local video store. After all someone must be able to produce a strong antidote to counter the effect of "logical" pictures Hollywood is mass-producing. So, why not the Dutch?
In 2004 Grimm was nominated for the Dutch Film Critics Award at the Nederlands Film Festival in Utrecht, and a Golden Seashell at the San Sebastian International Film Festival.
How Does the DVD Look?
Presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and enhanced for widescreen TV's Grimm looks gorgeous. A beautiful progressive transfer with deep and lush colors, excellent degree of contrast, and an image that hardly shows any digital manipulation this is one impressive DVD package. I can not stop thinking how the only company that would consistently deliver top-notch transfers for their catalog of contemporary foreign cinema, Home Vision, is now history. Looking at this excellent image quality I feel quite a bit upset as I doubt it we will soon see an independent label in North America that would match the quality productions HVE left behind.
How Does the DVD Sound?
Presented with its original audio track of mixed Dutch and Spanish the 5.1 mix is quite good. There is absolutely nothing that I as a reviewer can be upset with, just an all around steady presentation. With optional English subtitles.
-Selected Scene Commentary by Director Alex van Warmerdam
-Exclusive interview with Alex van Warmerdam
-"Painting" (1986): Animated Short by Alex van Warmerdam
-Digital artwork galleries by Alex van Warmerdam
-Linear notes by film critic Edward E. Crouse
Daring, edgy, defying common logic Alex van Warmerdam's Grimm is a wild ride of a film where nothing is what it seems. Breaking the boundaries of conventional cinema this quirky Dutch production feels a bit too bizarre at times but…who says cinema has to be straightforward. Highly Recommended!