FANTASTIC FEST: Dealer (2021)

Johnny is a street-smart kid who spends his weekdays in a group home but soon learns that he can no longer go home on the weekends. He’s a mover and shaker, though, as he sells cocaine and avoids getting caught because after all, he’s just a kid.

Then he meets Antony, an actor whose pocket Johnny tries to pick. Agreeing not to press charges, he soon starts to use the young boy as his new cocaine source, but they both may have a greater destint. However, no one escapes the drug trade, whether they’re a dealer or a user.

The first full-length film written and directed by Jeroen Perceval, who has acted in films such as Bullhead and Borgman, Dealer doesn’t shy from some hard subjects beyond drugs, including poverty and abusive families. The bond between the two leads — Sverre Rous as Johnny and Ben Segers as Antony — should lead to better lives for both of them, as Johnny desperately needs attention, the ability to become an actor and an escape from his hellish existence. And Antony needs to connect to someone young as well as the chance to redeem himself after years of addiction.

Of course, that means that there’s no way that this movie can end happily. The write-up for this movie claimed that it was “brutal and unsparing,” and trust me — they were not lying. This Belgian film takes you deep inside a world that you probably never should want to be a part of. Both selling and taking drugs are not blameless crimes, as there are victims on both sides. And once you start, you may never escape, no matter how great your intentions.

Dealer debuted Tuesday at Fantastic Fest and will be available later this year. We’ll update this review when we have more information on how you can see it for yourself.

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