Waste Land

Jérémie Renier, a charismatic actor best known for his work with Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne, stars in this heavy-handed allegory about the legacy of Belgian colonialism. He plays a police detective who, investigating the murder of a Congolese immigrant, uncovers a black market for African tribal relics and grows obsessed with the case, neglecting his pregnant wife, having an affair with the dead man’s sister, and ultimately sliding into alcoholism and violence. Writer-director Pieter Van Hees clearly intends for Renier’s brutishness to evoke the activities of Belgian colonialists in the Congo (at one point, the cop’s partner calls him “a direct descendent of Leopold II”), yet he offers no compelling explanation for his behavior. This isn’t even that interesting as a policier—it’s essentially a metaphor in search of a story. In French with subtitles.