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In a movie filled with characters you couldn’t care less about, debut helmer Jeroen Perceval’s obnoxiously loud direction is the least of Dealer’s many problems.

It would be easy to classify the young protagonist of Dealer as a raw, modern version of a Dickensian character, trying to survive in a world that hasn't been kind to him. But though the narrative of a kid mostly abandoned by his parents who moonlights as a pill pusher seems to fit that bill, the lack of someone to actually root for makes Dealer the opposite of a compelling rite-of-passage yarn.

That you couldn't care less about any of the characters isn't just due to the fact that they act like brainless twats most of the time. It's also a consequence of debut director Jeroen Perceval's refusal to give any insight in the motivations behind their behaviour, in one instance even asking the viewer to believe that social services would appoint a woefully unqualified stranger to serve as the lead's guardian at the snap of a finger.

Perceval tries to gloss over incredulous leaps in logic by turning the volume up to eleven in certain scenes, but this only highlights the lack of profound human emotions, with Dealer's cloying, cliché-riddled and transparently manipulative climax a particularly lazy nadir.

release: 2021

director: Jeroen Perceval

starring: Sverre Rous, Ben Segers, Bart Hollanders, Veerle Baetens


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