Director: Bouli Lanners

Belgium-France| 2005. English subtitles. Colour. Anamorphic. Dolby digital stereo. 83 min.

If Belgian film-makers have been cornering the market of late with a brand of droll, understated cinema about the lives of sympathetic loners and losers, Ultranova is this year’s original and satisfying addition to the roster. Set in and around Liege’s semi-industrial hinterland, the film centres on Dimitri (Vincent Lecuyer), an introverted young chap who rather surprisingly makes his living as one of a team of estate agents charged with the unenviable task of selling starter homes in drab locations. A chance meeting with a girl (in mordantly funny circumstances) leads to a tentative romance, but the early promise of the affair seems doomed to falter. His workmates have problems of their own, and these too are drawn in elliptical fashion as befits the low-key tone of the film. Writer-director Bouli Lanners makes use of his training as a landscape painter to give the film a distinctive look, perfectly matched by Jarby McCoy’s atmospheric minimalist score. Maintaining a deft balance between melancholia and mirth, this gem of a film is one of the discoveries of the year. Preview courtesy of ICA Projects.

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