13-year-old Gunther Strobbe grows up surrounded by alcohol, trash and his completely useless father and uncles. Slowly but surely, he's being prepared for the same hapless life. Can he defy his destiny?
Felix van Groeningen
Koen De Graeve
Elise and Didier fall in love at first sight, in spite of their differences. He talks, she listens. He's a romantic atheist, she's a religious realist. When their daughter becomes seriously ill, their love is put on trial.
Felix van Groeningen
A 15-year-old girl in a black gang in Brussels must choose between loyalty and love when she falls for a Moroccan boy from a rival gang. The city of Brussels, plagued by high rates of youth... See full summary »
In this film about a famous bar, the drugs turn up after about twenty minutes. A few minutes later, there's the rock and roll. And right after that, the sex. The holy trinity of youthful rebellion is very much present in 'Belgica', the new movie by Belgian film maker Felix Van Groeningen.
This film is heavily inspired by Van Groeningen's own life: his father was the owner of the famous bar 'Charlatan' in Ghent, which is the inspiration for the bar 'Belgica' in the film. The bar is owned by two brothers, who expand the rather modest café with a concert hall and a VIP-bar. But with the success of the bar come all sorts of problems. The two brothers drift apart, and in the end the bar becomes a burden and a source of conflict.
The film contains many scenes of heavy partying, drinking and dancing. But the story is about the relationship between the brothers, who are rather different in character. The youngest is business-minded and responsible, the oldest is a troublemaker who neglects his wife and child in order to enjoy the sex, drugs and rock and roll in the Belgica.
The problem is that this contrast between the two characters is a bit meager to carry the whole film. There are some side stories, mostly about girls, but on the whole the story is rather flimsy. This film is not a careful dissection of brotherhood, but a straightforward account of the rise and fall of a bar.
The cinematography is above average: the partying crowds are nicely filmed in varying styles. Sometimes in a warm glow, sometimes in cold and hard lighting. There's also a lot of nice music in the film. But on the whole, this film lacks the subtlety and originality of Van Groeningen's previous movie, 'The Broken Circle Breakdown'.
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