5 February 2009 | Onderhond
The happy disease
Pieter van Hees is one of the many young director talents surfacing on Belgian soil. With Linkeroever, his first film, he established himself as a director with a definite sense of style, Dirty Mind takes him a little further into the world of quality cinema. He leaves the horror genre for what is it and takes on comedy with a dash of drama and action.
The idea behind Dirty Mind is pretty interesting. Diego is a pretty big loser living under the wings of his older brother. The both of them form a pretty unsuccessful stunt team, until one day Diego is forced to do a stunt himself and lands pretty hard on his head. He is diagnosed with frontal lobe syndrome, a disease which takes away the human restraints and makes you enjoy life at the expense of losing your feeling of empathy.
Diego becomes Tony T and launches the stunt business to instant stardom. Tony's sudden change in character leads to some pretty funny scenes but at the same time holds a definite level of sadness as the audience is constantly aware of Tony's disease. Van Hees and actor Van Helsen succeed in exploiting this feeling to bring some very powerful scenes in between the laughter.
In essence though, Dirty Mind is still pretty much a hardcore comedy with a sense of humor that's starting to become pretty typical for the alternative Belgian cinema. It shows the lowest, simplest side of the human mind and links it to everyday tragedy. It is definitely not to everyone's liking (we were pretty much the only ones laughing) but it is certainly the type of humor I appreciate.
Visually Dirty Mind is kept very grainy. It suits the film and the characters but apart from that Van Hees serves us some cool shots and pretty imagery. It is good to see that a young director like him at least pays good attention to the visual side of his film. Also remarkable are the intertitles in between segments of the film as they are integrated pretty well in the scenery of the film. Pretty cool font too.
In the end though, it really is Van Helsen, the main actor, who makes this film work. His character has the potential to greatly irritate an audience but he pulls it off to make his a pretty interesting guy nonetheless. As the film progresses he turns into a complete asshole but never loses the sympathy of the audience. The humor becomes grittier too as the film nears its end and becomes quite black in tone, but it never crosses the line of being too dramatic or tragic to switch the feel of the film.
Van Hees really proved his worth with his second film. Dirty Mind is funny, bears a good and original story and is well directed on all fronts to help create a solid feel for the film. Soundtrack and picture quality could be seen as negative points but fit the characters and setting so well that it could hardly be seen as a lack of talent. Dirty Mind is a funny film, but delivers a few smart punches and leaves some interesting questions, though the film itself is not too concerned with hammering them into the minds of the audience. Make sure to catch it if you get the chance. 4.0*/5.0*