Wednesday, September 2, 2015

A Case for Treatment: "The Treatment" (2015)

Ye olde police procedural has been around for decades, with dozens of examples being shown on television every night of the week. There is rarely anything new to offer, and the comfortable television shows follow a routine in their episodes that rarely challenges the average viewer- "Bones" and "Criminal Minds," I'm looking at you. Director Hans Herbots and screenwriter Carl Joos takes an English crime novel (by Mo Hayder), and the age old police conventions, and shakes things up a bit. The evil of some of our fellow humans is ratcheted up, and this film contains an excruciating final scene that will stick with you for days. To say "The Treatment" is a dark film is an understatement.

Nick Cafmeyer (an excellent Geert Van Rampelberg) is a driven inspector dealing with the demons of his past. His younger brother was kidnapped, and the uncharged prime suspect (Johann van Assche) in the case continues to bother the detective to this day. Nick's new case involves another missing child, and old wounds are reopened as Nick confronts similarities to his past. The missing child's parents almost died from dehydration as the kidnapper handcuffed them for days without food or water while the boy was assaulted. Many suspects come out of the woodwork (I wouldn't identify them as "red herrings," though), and a driven Nick investigates under the sympathetic watchful eye of boss Danni (Ina Geerts).

The brilliance of Joos' screenplay is that just when you think you have everything figured out, the film throws a curve ball that has you questioning yourself again and again. This is not a gimmicky strategy, but an organic product of the story. The film upsets the conventions (thankfully, no interrogation room theatrics) expertly. The plot is so damn compelling. I was glued to what was happening, and followed the characters to where the story went with both fascination and repulsion.

Herbots' camera is cold and unflinching. There are a number of scenes that will make you squirm and turn away, and it's depressing that this type of crime is being committed on a daily basis around the world (don't believe me, just watch the news). The editing by Philippe Ravoet is breathtaking. Often, the film will cut back and forth between two or three scenes, all of which have something vital to the plot happening, and the viewer won't be able to take their eyes off the screen. Van Rampelberg is a handsome actor, but this isn't an action film, and he is able to deliver a troubled performance that should get him awards. Of course, if this is remade, the role is perfect for Liam Neeson, if he hadn't played almost the exact same character in "A Walk Among the Tombstones."

"The Treatment," also known as "De Behandeling," is another winner from Artsploitation Films, and one that will haunt you for days. You'll never look at "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" the same way again, and if you do, you might find it bland. This is one of the best films of the year. (* * * * *) out of five stars.

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