The Carriers Are Waiting

  • 1999
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Comedy, Drama

With an intolerably cruel father as a central character and a setting as cozy as granite, this grim black comedy from Belgium would be unbearable if it wasn't scripted with such wry humor. In a dreary industrial town somewhere in Belgium, Roger Closset (Benoit Poelvoorde), a photographer for a local newspaper, dreams of a better life for himself and his...read more

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Reviewed by Ken Fox
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With an intolerably cruel father as a central character and a setting as cozy as granite, this grim black comedy from Belgium would be unbearable if it wasn't scripted with such wry humor. In a dreary industrial town somewhere in Belgium, Roger Closset

(Benoit Poelvoorde), a photographer for a local newspaper, dreams of a better life for himself and his family. When a local business offers a brand new car to anyone who breaks a world record, Roger insists his hapless teenage son Michel (Jean-Francois Devigne) become the next door-opening

champion: Michel only needs to open a door, pass through, then close it behind him 41,828 times and the car is his. Michel wants no part of his father's scheme -- he'd much rather devote his time to his local radio show in which he dons an Elvis jumpsuit and discusses film flubs -- but Roger

insists with the same bullying abusiveness with which he treats the rest of his miserable family. Roger hires a trainer (Bouli Lanners), builds a freestanding doorway in the backyard and screams at Michel until he succumbs. Roger's eight-year-old daughter Luise (Margane Simeon), meanwhile,

befriends the Closset's next-door-neighbor Felix (Philippe Grand'Henry), a gentle introvert who trains prize-winning carrier pigeons and often serves as the butt of Roger's ruthlesss teasing when he's not busy humiliating and haranguing his own family. It isn't easy finding much to laugh about

here: Shot in crisp black and white, writer-director Benoit Mariage presents a world where the stronger prey on the weak and babies are burned with cigarettes. Remarkably, Mariage — himself a former press photographer and, until now, a documentary filmmaker — finds an essential absurdity

within the greater tragedy of his characters' lives without ever once mocking them. Equally remarkable is Polevoorde's performance. Stout-hearted filmgoers may remember him as the star of the brutal MAN BITES DOG in which he portrayed a conscienceless serial killer, a role nearly as frightening as

the merciless brute he portrays here.

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  • Released: 1999
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: With an intolerably cruel father as a central character and a setting as cozy as granite, this grim black comedy from Belgium would be unbearable if it wasn't scripted with such wry humor. In a dreary industrial town somewhere in Belgium, Roger Closset (B… (more)

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