Calvaire (film)

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"The Ordeal" redirects here. For the episode of Doctor Who titled "The Ordeal", see The Daleks|The Daleks § Doctor Who episode head|The Daleks.
Official theatrical poster
Directed by Fabrice Du Welz
Produced by Michael Gentile
Eddy Géradon-Luyckx
Vincent Tavier
Written by Fabrice Du Welz
Romain Protat
Starring Laurent Lucas
Jackie Berroyer
Philippe Nahon
Music by Vincent Cahay
Cinematography Benoît Debie
Edited by Sabine Hubeaux
La Parti Productions
Studio Canal
The Film
Backup Films
Centre du Cinéma et de l'Audiovisuel de la Communauté Française de Belgique
Fonds National de Soutien à la Production Audiovisuelle du Luxembourg
Télédistributeurs Wallons
Distributed by Mars Distribution
Release dates 18 May 2004
Running time 88 minutes
Country Belgium
Language French

Calvaire is a 2004 Belgian psychological horror film directed by Fabrice Du Welz, starring Laurent Lucas, Philippe Nahon and Jackie Berroyer.

Plot synopsis[edit]

Marc Stevens is a struggling low-level performer, who makes his living performing light pop ballads and easy listening tunes at retirement homes and other small venues around Belgium. En route to perform on a Christmas special, he wrecks his van — which doubles as his home — during a thunderstorm and is stranded deep in the woods. Lost, cold, and succumbing to the elements, Marc is rescued by a local, an emaciated young man named Boris, who takes Marc to a nearby abandoned inn and then deserts him there.

Marc quickly discovers that the sole occupant of the inn is its former proprietor, Mr. Bartel, an amiable old man who now lives there as a hermit of sorts. Claiming to be a retired standup comedian, Mr. Bartel welcomes Marc to stay as long as he likes, even offering to tow and repair Marc's van as a sign of brotherhood between professional entertainers. Marc accepts the offer, but retains his arrogant demeanor, refusing to speak with Mr. Bartel about his own career or personal life.

The next morning, Mr. Bartel tows Marc's van into the front yard of the inn. Marc informs Mr. Bartel that he is going for a walk, at which point Mr. Bartel suddenly becomes paranoid and aggressive, warning Marc not to travel into the nearby village. Marc agrees, but nevertheless pays a visit to a nearby farm, where he witnesses a family voyeuristically watching a teenage boy have intercourse with a calf, calling the experience "so tender". Meanwhile, rather than repairing Marc's van, Mr. Bartel begins snooping through the portion of it in which Marc lives, stealing an envelope of amateur pornography presented to Marc by one of his fans (Brigitte Lahaie).

That night, Mr. Bartel becomes even more aggressive, working himself into a frenzy while recalling his adulterous wife who abandoned him years before. Mr. Bartel forces Marc to sing him song before going to bed. The next day, Marc discovers the envelope of homemade porn in the inn and realizes Mr. Bartel has been going through his things; when he attempts to call for help, Marc realizes that the telephone Mr. Bartel has been regularly using isn't even wired into the wall. Rushing to confront Mr. Bartel, Marc discovers Mr. Bartel vandalizing the van before blowing it up with gasoline and knocking Marc unconscious with the van's battery.

Marc awakens to find himself tied to a chair, clad only in an old sundress. Mr. Bartel, now babbling, addresses Marc as if he were his wife, asking "her" why "she" came back after leaving him. Mr. Bartel sets about shaving one half of Marc's scalp, to 'protect him from the villagers' before forcing him into bed and cuddling next to him.

The next day, Mr. Bartel ties Marc to a tractor and takes him out into the woods to chop down a Christmas tree. Marc escapes, but ends up getting caught in a rabbit snare. He lies there prone for several hours until Boris wanders by; Marc begs him for help, but Boris ignores his pleas, addressing Marc as if he were his lost dog. Boris sits down beside Marc and pets and strokes him for several minutes before alerting Mr. Bartel to Marc's whereabouts. Mr. Bartel comes and retrieves Marc, driving him back to the inn in the back of a hay truck. Curiously, a pair of villagers witness the entire course of events but do nothing to help Marc or alert the authorities.

Back at the inn, Mr. Bartel chastises "his wife" for running away, then crucifies Marc behind the inn before going into town to confront the villagers at the town pub. Convinced that his wife was a "slut" who was sleeping with every man in town, Mr. Bartel warns the villagers that now "she" has "returned", none of them can "have her". The villagers all appear to act paranoid and frightened at Mr. Bartel's ramblings, but once Bartel leaves, one of the patrons sits down at an antique piano and begins to play what sounds like polka music; all of the villagers get up and begin dancing with one another.[1]

Back at the inn, Mr. Bartel brings Marc into the kitchen and they sit down for Christmas dinner. Boris arrives with a calf, convinced that it is his missing dog. Mr. Bartel gives a tearful, impassioned speech about love, togetherness, and the spirit of the holidays, before a sudden rifle shot rings out and a bullet explodes through the inn's window, mortally wounding Boris. The villagers lay siege to the inn, intent on reclaiming the calf, and it quickly becomes apparent that the villagers are also intent on raping Marc, in the belief that Marc is Mr. Bartel's returned wife. The villagers mortally wound Mr. Bartel before turning their attention to Marc; one of the villagers then briefly rapes Marc on the dining room table.[2]

Marc finally manages to escape from the mob and into the wilderness. He spends the night running from them through the woods, coming across a cemetery in the bog, with an imposing crucified Christ gravestone, aligning with the Calvaire of the title. Marc manages to elude all but one of the villagers, who is just about to kill Marc when the villager slips into a pool of quicksand. A crying and broken Marc approaches the drowning villager, neglecting to snatch the villager's gun and kill him. Instead, the tearful Marc comforts the man as he quickly sinks below the surface, assuming the identity of Mr. Bartel's wife and telling the man that "she" does, in fact, love him. Within seconds, the villager is dead, and Marc is left alone in the wilderness.[3]


  • Laurent Lucas as Marc Stevens
  • Brigitte Lahaie as mademoiselle Vicky
  • Gigi Coursigny as madame Langhoff
  • Jean-Luc Couchard as Boris
  • Jackie Berroyer as Bartel
  • Philippe Nahon as Robert Orton
  • Philippe Grand'Henry as Tomas Orton
  • Jo Prestia as Fermier Mylène
  • Marc Lefebvre as Lucien
  • Alfred David-Pingouin as Roland
  • Alain Delaunois as Gáant
  • Vincent Cahay as Stan le Pianiste
  • Johan Meys as Rosto
  • Romain Protat, figurant dans le bar
  • Damien Waselle, figurant dans le bar
  • Viktor Mikol, figurant dans le bar
  • Nedzad Kurtagic, figurant dans le bar
  • Yves Vaucher, figurant dans le bar
  • Borhan Du Welz as enfant dans le bois
  • Maxime Dewitte as enfant dans le bois
  • Alexis Dewitte as enfant dans le bois
  • Liam Gilson as enfant dans le bois
  • Raphaël Schmidt as enfant dans le bois
  • Eliot Cahay as enfant dans le bois
  • Farkhad Alekperov as enfant dans le bois


It premiered on 18 May 2004 as part of the Cannes Film Festival and had his US release on August 25, 2006. Its official English title was The Ordeal, but most reviewers have still referred to it as Calvaire which refers to Christ's ordeal on his crucifixion.

DVD release[edit]

The short film included on the Tartan Film DVD is called A wonderful love also directed by Fabrice Du Welz. Even the American DVD has Calvaire as the prominent title, with The Ordeal as a subtitle.


Amsterdam Fantastic Film Festival[edit]

  • Grand Prize of European Fantasy Film in Silver

Gérardmer Film Festival[edit]

  • International Critics Award
  • Premiere Award
  • Special Jury Prize


  1. ^ Koch. "Calvaire". (in German). Retrieved 2 August 2012. 
  2. ^ Pamela De Graff (22 February 2010). "BORDERLINE WEIRD: CALVAIRE (2004)". 366 Weird Movies. Weird Movies. Retrieved 2 August 2012. 
  3. ^ Jameson Kowalczyk (6 August 2006). "Foreign Spotlight: The Ordeal". Retrieved 2 August 2012. 

External links[edit]