Two men, one car, one catastrophic day. This is the simple concept of ‘H4Z4RD’, the second full-length film by Jonas Govaerts. Flaming cinema with a grotesque sense of humor but also with a wide commercial potential, especially with Dimitri ‘Vegas’ Thivaios in the lead role.
A week before ‘H4Z4RD’ hits Belgian cinemas, director Jonas Govaerts still has healthy doubts. “I don’t really know what I made,” he admits. ‘I am very curious about the reactions.’
In the course of the conversation, he mentions his second feature film (eight years after the scout horror ‘Cub’) among other things cartoonish, adolescent, a punk film, a ‘bad day’ film and a strange compact action film. The story is simple: thirty-something Noah Hazard (Vegas) loves his wife and daughter, but also his pimped up Lexus. When he picks up his brother (full throttle rendition by Jeroen Perceval) at the prison, he immediately has a new crime plan. However, things go awry, and so begins an insane day that takes the duo at breakneck speed through the whole of Antwerp.
One thing is certain: Govaerts has made ‘H4Z4RD’ his own thing. The filmmaker is known for his wild imagination and love for genre cinema. He previously gave it free rein in TV series such as ‘Tabula Rasa’, ‘F*** You Very Very Much’, ‘SUPER8’ and ‘MONSTER!’.
For the last two he worked with Stef Lernous of the theater company Abattoir Fermé, who also took care of ‘H4Z4RD’. ‘We both have a sense of humor that can be politically incorrect,’ says Govaerts. ‘In these times where everyone is walking on eggshells, we like to keep trying things out.’
I don’t really know what I made.
‘H4Z4RD’ constantly dances on the tightrope between madness and drama, without ever falling off. The situations sometimes get very bizarre and delirious, but you also see the main character evolve. Hence the colors of the car: gold and black. ‘Noah is literally in a golden cage’, explains Govaerts. ‘He’s been doing things wrong all his life, but he’s always managed to get by with his heels over the ditch. Now he experiences a day when everything goes wrong and he clings to that car. If he has to hand it over, he will say goodbye to his puberty for good and he really becomes a daddy.’
It’s not the only subtext in this crazy mix of action, humor, drama and crime. ‘H4Z4RD’ also contains several subcutaneous stitches to the theme of Flemish identity, such as the Flemish boxer with the yellow-black outfit, the students who sing the ‘Giant gum’ song and the yellow-black poster for a party called BDW.
- H4Z4RD’ is the second full-length film by Jonas Govaerts after ‘Cub’.
- He takes place largely in the pimped up Lexus of a thirty-something who cannot say goodbye to his youth.
- The story covers one day when everything goes horribly wrong.
- Govaerts finds the right balance between action, drama and (greasy) humor.
- Dimitri ‘Vegas’ Thivaios exudes a lot of authenticity in his first leading role and co-produced the film.
‘I have to admit that, as an Antwerper, I am increasingly attracted to the movement to the right in my city’, says Govaerts. ‘And it’s so easy to puncture those ideas. If I do get to make a punk movie, I’d like to put my anger in it too. That’s why I’m glad that seven languages are spoken in ‘H4Z4RD’. I get angry when I hear politicians talking about the Flemish canon. That’s not the city I know. Antwerp is more complex and diverse than certain political parties portray it. I don’t want to make a big statement, but you can be proud of things other than the Flemish Lion.’ (laughs)
‘H4Z4RD’ was not an easy production. The basis was an American scenario that Govaerts and Lernous have completely reworked. Only the budget was budgeted for the original script, which consisted of two talking men in a car. ‘We have made it something completely different and more ambitious’, says Govaerts. ‘It has become a kind of weird, compact action film that actually requires a completely different planning and budget. So I was constantly running into a lack of time and resources.’
One asset he was fortunate to play was his lead actor. Dimitri Thivaios may only be getting his first lead role, but he’s doing just fine. And he immediately drew a lot of attention to the project. As Dimitri Vegas, he is a big name in the DJ world, with 1.9 million followers on Instagram.
So it’s no wonder that the first trailer of ‘H4Z4RD’ shattered all Belgian records at the beginning of May. ‘This film was also a passion project for Dimitri’, says Govaerts. ‘That’s why he wanted to co-produce. Conversely, it was an advantage for me, because Dimitri is really a brand. You normally don’t get a film ‘H4Z4RD’ with us, unless you have someone like him on board.’
‘H4Z4RD’ will be in cinemas from Wednesday 20 July.