Film news: Schoenaerts and Phoenix to play brothers, Belgian critics reward Never Look Away


As local actor Matthias Schoenaerts announces another major international project, the Belgian Film Critics’ Union chooses artist biopic Never Look Away as 2019’s best movie

Star power

Flemish movie star Matthias Schoenaerts (pictured) has announced that he is making a film in which he will star alongside Joaquin Phoenix (Joker, The Sisters Brothers) and Mads Mikkelsen (Arctic, Rogue One).

Details of the plot are not yet known, but Schoenaerts told De Standaard that the three will play brothers. The movie will be directed by Thomas Vinterberg, with whom Schoenaerts worked in Far from the Madding Crowd and Kursk.

Schoenaerts can currently be seen on the big screen in Belgium in The Mustang, in which he plays a prisoner learning to break wild horses. Next month, Terrence Malick’s new film A Hidden Life opens in Belgium, with Schoenaerts playing a Nazi captain tasked with strong-arming an Austrian pacifist to fight for the Third Reich.

The 42-year-old actor has several more projects that have recently completed, including Steven Soderbergh’s The Laundromat, a satire that lays out the Panama Papers scandal, and Malick’s The Last Planet, in which he plays the disciple Peter in a retelling of the story of Jesus. The former is not schedule to open in Belgium, and we’ll have to wait for up to a year for the latter.

In a movie, everything is usually set in stone, but Malick lets the wind blow right through his plans. It’s so courageous

- Matthias Schoenaerts

Malick (Voyage of Time, The Tree of Life) makes films “the way Jackson Pollock paints,” Schoenaerts told De Standaard. “There is an intention there, but you don’t always know how it’s going to land on the canvas. He’s always waiting for an accident. It can be confusing, but I’ve embraced it. In a movie, everything is usually set in stone, but he lets the wind blow right through his plans. It’s so courageous.”

In other cinema news, the Belgian Film Critics’ Union (UFK) has chosen Never Look Away as the best film of 2019. The movie, by German director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck (The Lives of Others), is loosely based on the life of painter Gerhard Richter, whose childhood was marred by the Nazi’s eugenics programme and the Second World War.

UFK, which is celebrating its 65th anniversary this year, chose the film “for its grandiose evocation of the 20th-century Germany and the place of art in the ideological upheavals of this turbulent period”.

The organisation also awards the Cavens Prize to the best Belgian film of the year. This year it went to Nuestras Madres (Our Mothers) by Cesar Diaz. The director turned to his roots to tell personal stories of the Guatemalan genocide. The film is currently playing in Ghent.

All movies that have opened in cinemas in Belgium in the previous year are eligible for the UFK prizes.

Photo: Nicolas Maeterlinck/BELGA