13th Sep2015

‘The Treatment’ Blu-ray Review

by Stuart Wright

Stars: Geert Van Rampelberg, Ina Geerts, Johan van Assche, Laura Verlinden, Dominique Van Malder, Roel Swanenberg, Kyan Steverlynck, Ingrid De Vos, Michael Vergauwen, Circé Lethem, Brit Van Hoof, Tibo Vandenborre, Stan Puynen, Roy Aernouts, Jan Hammenecker | Written by Carl Joos | Directed by Hans Herbots

treatment-blu

Detective Inspector Nick Cafmeyer (Geert Van Rampelberg) is an adult man stuck in a childhood nightmare – the unresolved abduction of his older brother Bjorn when they were both under ten. The main suspect, and known paedophile, Ivan Plettinckx (Johan Van Assche) is interviewed by the police but there’s no evidence to convict him at the time. Haunted by memories of seeing him taken and consumed by guilt Cafmeyer has made Plettinckx his life’s work. The appearance of his nemesis in his back garden goading him with his presence coincides with a horrific new crime. A husband and wife are discovered tied to up, beaten, badly dehydrated and left for dead. Worse still their young son is missing. The subsequent investigation, with an initial focus on Plettinckx, uncovers a paedophile ring and acts of child abuse so vile the surviving parents are unwilling to talk about it.

The Treatment is a screen adaptation of Mo Hayder’s crime thriller novel of the same name by award winning screenwriter Carl Joos (winner of the best screenplay Tribeca 2013 for The Broken Circle Breakdown). Directed by Hans Herbot (The Spiral, TV mini-series, 2012), it’s a Belgian film, but the look and feel is Nordic noir. Certainly the cold greys and blues are a recognisable motif and aesthetic of this emerging sub-genre.

The story is a complex one that Joos does his absolute best to hold onto critical information for as long as possible. No doubt driven by the brilliance of the best selling author’s source material. However, the 125 minutes run time just wasn’t long enough to fit everything in they wanted to cover. Basic police procedural action, we’ve seen lots of times, could’ve been skipped over to focus more on the intricate sub-plotting that is at the heart of Joos’s intriguing puzzle of a screenplay.

Cafmeyer’s character doesn’t really grow through the course of the film. He starts off emotionally turned up to 11 and rarely takes a break from his turmoil. Nevertheless Van Rampelberg’s performance is strong and as a man lost in a never-ending search for personal salvation he is convincing. Like all good crime thrillers he breaks the rules to get things done and, once rogue, The Treatment‘s excitement levels rise exponentially as you worry that Cafmeyer’s personal demons may jeopardise the whole investigation.

There’s real confrontation and challenge in how much Herbot is prepared to show you at critical stages of this movie. It is done to upset your sensibilities and present you with the true horror of what is being uncovered by Cafmeyer. It’s neither graphic nor exploitative, but he does deal in brutal truths. For example, when we are alone with the Detective Inspector as he reviews some VHS tapes, we see enough to know that solving these types of cases can and will break those that get too involved.

Overall, The Treatment is a raw and unsettling film that gets a little lost while trying to juggle one too many story threads, but absolutely delivers when it comes to the finale… and boy what a gripping finale.

The Treatment is released on DVD and Blu-ray on September 14th. Special features include a Director Interview, Deleted Scenes and Featurette.

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