Fantastic Fest – Dirty Mind

Belgian director Pieter Van Hees brings us his new film, Dirty Mind, about a shy stunt effects guy, Diego (played by Wim Helsen), who suffers some brain trauma and suddenly develops a totally uninhibited personality (a real syndrome called frontal lobe disorder).  He starts calling himself “Tony T, as in TNT, boom baby!” and becomes a devil-may-care stuntman.  A doctor, Janna (Kristine Van Pellicom) tries to get him to get treatment for his disorder, but Diego/Tony hated his loser life and is enjoying being a stuntman and chick magnet.  So he tries ceaselessly to seduce Janna instead.

The interesting part of the film is the debate over whether Diego/Tony really needs treatment or not.  He was an unhappy loser living with his mother, also a pathetic depressive, always overshadowed by his stuntman brother Cisse (Robbie Cleiren).  Now, sure he’s a little inappropriate at times but is generally acting like his brother or any number of non-brain-damaged overenthusiastic assholes we all know and semi-love.  The film slowly ups the ante as his syndrome progresses – in the beginning, his brother and family are very enthusiastic about the new personality.  But then Tony starts to eclipse his brother in the stunt world and cuts him out of deals; he has sexual contact with people he shouldn’t; he gets very narcissistic and loses the ability to empathize with people or determine what is inappropriate and the progresses to very risky behavior.  But even with that the people in  his life vacillate over whether Diego or Tony is the best guy (also an interesting theme, about how other people help determine who we are).

Helsen’s performance is great.  The film’s serious but funny at times; Tony has these little pseudo-raps he does about how great he is that are hilarious.  The best takeaway points are:

  • There’s a fine line between mental disorder and the normal range of human behavior
  • Women love the bad boys – even (especially) the buttoned up professional women; when it comes down to it they’ll throw it all away for the deep dicking
  • Sometimes your mother just needs a good punch in the uterus for lippin’ off to you

I thought this movie was awesome.  Very thought-provoking.  The one thing I didn’t like was the ending; they throw in a little “action” at the end when the operate-or-not decision is at stake and I thought that was a misstep, trying to do things the “Hollywood friendly” way or something.  But besides that, this was one of my favorite movies of the festival, and definitely the most thought-provoking.

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