From what I’ve seen so far, films by Victor Nieuwenhuijs and Maartje Seyferth are largely hit-and-miss, and experimental. Their more recent film however, the suggestively titled “Vlees” [Eng. Title: Meat] makes a sincere attempt to work with a structured screenplay, and sets up a very original drama if one can care to pay close attention to it.
Made up of two halves and told in parallel narrative, we follow two middle-aged characters – a butcher, and a police detective, with strikingly similar features (played by the same actor Titus Muizelaar). While the detective wants to end his relationship with girlfriend Sonja, the married butcher is seen trying to seduce nubile shop assistant Roxy, while his wife Tinie, also an employee, openly has sexual relations with the shop’s owner – both the protagonists are going through a crisis of some sort. The butcher is found dead one morning, and the suspicion falls on Roxy, who was the last one seen with him the night before – yes, the butcher succeeds in his seduction efforts in one of the memorable scenes of the film. Roxy’s case isn’t helped by the fact that she and her erstwhile boyfriend are also part of a militant group against the killing of animals. And she has a habit of capturing things on her video camera, like prying on the butcher.
What starts off as a murder mystery turns into a psychological drama about revenge, guilt, and redemption. To be honest, it required more than a viewing for me to make sense of the numerous seemingly pointless scenes and plot devices. This is partly because some of the scenes are purely imagined, portraying a character’s frame of mind, and not all of them use conventional cinematic language to separate reality from fantasy. I won’t bother analysing them here, but it will help if you consider certain facts. The butcher’s state of mind – his passive reaction in seeing his wife routinely taken upstairs for sex by their boss. And for all the promise of giving Roxy the orgasm of her life, the sex that the butcher ends up having with her is hurried, unimaginative, and totally selfish. Why does the detective cut his hair to make himself look like the dead butcher. What does Roxy see in the butcher that keeps her approaching him despite his tasteless remarks. Her relationship with her Turkish boyfriend appears one-sided. She willingly accompanies boys at the night club in almost total abandon. She also doesn’t seem to care too much about her alleged beliefs vis-à-vis animal cruelty, eating a live bug as breakfast in one scene. And not least the detective who is told that he’s been taken off the case and investigated for manslaughter.
To summarise, there’s a lot going on in the film that paints a more complex picture than a sordid murder mystery or a study in sexual depravity. It may contain several unpleasant scenes like urination, rape, and close-ups of raw meat and naked human flesh, but it is a surprisingly original story that can be interpreted in different ways. The performances by the main cast are very good, particularly Titus Muizelaar who plays both the butcher and the detective. And the incredibly beautiful Nellie Benner as the passive, sensual, and wanton Roxy makes her altogether vulnerable character disturbingly erotic. With competent cinematography, writing, and editing, this film is well produced, and a very worthy exercise on the whole – Recommended Viewing..!
As the title would suggest, the film features intermittent scenes of nudity, acts of sex, and sexual fetish throughout. Mercifully, it is made bearable by the extremely easy on the eye Nellie Benner, who plays the character of Roxy. Titus Muizelaar as the butcher/detective also appears in the nude – quite bold of him to do so, and there is some brief nudity from Wilma Bakker who plays the butcher’s wife Tinie.