Last Winter

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Life in a deteriorating Belgian farming community offers few reasons to be cheerful in this miserablist, if visually arresting debut feature from director Shank. The film precisely charts how Johann (an impressive powder-keg performance from Rottiers) loses faith in the agricultural co-op of which he and his father are members. This in turn nudges him into psychological meltdown, as he begins to reject his family and a union whose structure – despite the assurances of its vehemently old school membership – is inherently flawed. Notable for its astonishing natural photography – the spare rural vistas and shots of flickering fire are clearly indebted to early Terrence Malick – the film’s final-reel drift into the abstract make it difficult to pinpoint exactly what Shank is trying to say.

By: David Jenkins

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