I kept picking up "Ex Drummer" in my local dvd store for a while without buying it but I finally gave in when the price became too good to refuse. "Ex Drummer" is a 2007 Belgian release directed by Koen Mortier. It is an adaptation of a book written by Herman Brusselmans of the same name.
The film begins with three disabled musicians who are looking for a drummer (who must also have a disability) so they can play a gig for one show only at a local music competition. They ask a famous, rich writer called Dries to play drums for them. His disability is that he can't play the drums (which he can play quite well), and this suits their bands punk sensibilities to a tee.
Koen is the lead singer. His disability is that he has a speech impediment. He also hates women, whom he is partial to raping and beating. The walls in his flat are usually smeared in someones blood and he's usually filmed upside down when he's in his home for some reason.
Ivan plays guitar. His disability is that he is slightly deaf. He is constantly under the influence of drugs and lives with his addict wife and badly neglected child in squalor.
Jan is the bass player. His disability is that he is unable to bend his right arm. He is gay, has some serious mother issues, and his dad is insane and is locked in a room in a straitjacket to stop him causing any harm.
Dries is pretty much bored with his life, and decides to join their band as a diversion and as inspiration for a new book. He is of the idea that he can get his amusement by hanging out with these degenerates and get away with doing things he would never imagine doing in civilised society, safe in the knowledge that he can go back to his plush apartment and his beautiful wife at the end of the day. Dries names the band "The Feminists", and watches and manipulates these dysfunctional characters purely for his own entertainment. He pretty much pushes everyone to breaking point knowing there is nothing they can do to get out of their mess while he simply goes home and forgets all about them.
This is a bleak, though at times, darkly comic film. With such themes as drug use, murder, rape, child abuse, racism, and many more, and the poverty these characters live in, can sometimes make for a tough watch. But, like such films as "Trainspotting", it has a degree of humour running through it too.
This is director Koen Mortier's first film, though he has previously worked on music videos and advertisements. There is an interesting 30 minute making of featurette on the dvd which shows how troubled the production of this film was. Rejection letter after rejection letter to get financing for the film, and the actors and crew really didn't like working with Mortier, who tries to liken himself to famous directors like Scorcese which is a bit hard to stomach.
This is a film that has split opinion down the middle with people either loving it or hating it. I thought it was a strange, slightly baffling film, but I have seen worse made films. Also I have to give kudos to the ending, which I did think was great and totally unexpected!
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