Original title:Dealer
Director:Jeroen Perceval
Running time:104 minutes
Release date:Not communicated
Dealer tells the story of a fourteen-year-old drug dealer named Johnny who stays in a home for troubled youth. He dreams of a better life. One day, he has the famous and successful actor Antony as a client and he becomes a regular. A special bond develops between them and both decide to take a different path.

Mulder's Review

This year again the Fantastic Fest Festival has allowed us to discover some excellent films, be it horror films, thrillers, fantasy comedies but also some unforgettable and captivating social dramas. Certainly the first film of the writer and actor Jeroen Perceval stands out for the rarely equaled emotion that emerges from it. Far from telling us a new drama on a worn out and simplistic plot, writer and director Jeroen Perceval shows us the ferocity of the many injustices of our daily life and how innocent people have to learn to survive in a dangerous environment with no real moral code. 

The great care given to the writing of the film and the direction of the actors can also be felt in the superb photography of Dealer, which establishes Jeroen Perceval as a virtuoso director capable of transcending a social and violent drama into an unforgettable film, the last images of which will remain in your mind long after you have seen this film. The film's seemingly simplistic construction turns out to be meticulous in finding the perfect tempo.

Actor and screenwriter (The Ardennes (2015), Jeroen Perceval delivers here his first film and offers us a fascinating story about the friendship between a famous actor, Anthony (Ben Segers) in the middle of an existential crisis and a young drug dealer Johnny (Sverre Rous). After attempting to rob Anthony in a restaurant, Johnny finds himself bonding with him not only by outrunning his dealer but by seeing him as a surrogate father. By not neglecting at any point the psychological evolution of the relationship between this actor and this lonely young boy trying to earn enough money to get by, the film captures strong and emotionally charged moments in life.

Far from taking the easy way out, Dealer is fascinating in that it presents us with a sad reflection of our current society in which social inequalities are increasing between social classes and often lead children who have lost their moral bearings to go beyond the acceptable by becoming drug dealers under the influence of unsavory people. Dealer relies on a solid cast and shows once again the vitality of Belgian cinema and especially its way of dealing with strong stories without limits, even if it means shocking some of the audience. 

Once again, Belgian cinema fascinates us with a real willingness to take risks and to leave a comfort zone in which many studios produce films as simple marketing products and most often without a real vision of an inspired director. Throughout its course, Dealer surprises us and above all benefits from a great care given to the image that may remind some of Nicolas Winding Refn's films. The end of the film is very emotional and shows a director who refuses any simplistic consensualism to let a desire to constantly surprise the audience. It is films like Dealer that make us love cinema in the same way that a book fascinates us and makes us want to read it in one go, Jeroen Perceval's first film is simply fascinating and overwhelming.

Written and directed by Jeroen Perceval
Produced by Sarah Marks, Bart Van Langendonck
Starring Veerle Baetens, Bart Hollanders, Ward Kerremans, Jennifer Heylen, Abigail Abraham, Ben Segers, Poal Cairo, Jurgen Van Haver, Anne Van Hoorick
Music by Stan Lee Cole
Cinematography : David Williamson
Edited by Maarten Janssens  
Production companies : Savage Film
Running time : 104 minutes

Seen on September 27, 2021 (Fantastic Fest)

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