Leila is a singer-songwriter with nothing but her voice to accompany her as she wanders from one place to another. With her heart still carrying the heavy burden of unrequited love, she resolves to leave her town. Armed with a camera and her music, Leila takes the audience on a trip that draws attention to her hopes and fears. In this lyrical road movie based on a true story, through the wonders that music presents, there is no path and no destination. Except that of the heart? Continue reading
Didier and Elise’s relationship is stormy and passionate; it’s love at first sight. Didier plays the banjo in a bluegrass band, lives in a caravan in the Belgian countryside and idolises America as the ‘land of the free’. Elise owns her own tattoo parlour. Her body is plastered with images – little mementos of past lovers whose names have been carefully covered up by new tattoos. Before long their two lives are closely intertwined. Elise sings in Didier’s band and they soon have a daughter together, little Maybelle, with whom they move into a lovingly if unconventionally restored country house. This film accompanies Elise and Didier on their rollercoaster ride through life; through days filled with their love of music and their mutual passion.
Based on the stage play by Johan Heldenbergh and Mieke Dobbels, director Felix van Groeningen portrays various episodes in Elise and Didier’s story. The film’s barn-stomping blue grass concert footage and enthralling love story are delightfully reminiscent of the grand old days of American country music. Continue reading
Crazy Love is the story of one man’s life told in three nights over the course of twenty years. The movie follows one Harry Voss, focusing on his difficult search for love. In 1955 we meet 13-year old Harry, a starry-eyed boy whose idea of romantic love is fashioned by melodramatic movies from Hollywood. Introduced to the mysteries of sex by an older friend, he begins to realize the messiness and pain of love. His vision of his parent’s marriage falls to the sight of them grunting under the sheets. Next we join Harry at age 19, as he’s about to graduate from school. The poor boy is afflicted with one of he worst cases of acne it is possible to imagine, covering him from head to toe in horrible bumps. It is made clear that he has no social life and few friends. Although introverted and shy, he’s convinced by a buddy to attend the graduation dance and goaded into asking the object of his affections to dance. He’s unable to work up the courage until he wraps his face and head in toilet paper — but even when the young girl sweetly accepts his invitation Harry still feels rejected. The night ends with him drunk and arrested. Then we jump to the man at age 33, when Harry has become an alcoholic loner. He runs into an old friend at a bar and the pair goes on a wild night of drinking, culminating in the theft of a dead body from an ambulance. When the corpse turns out to be a beautiful young woman Harry suddenly seems to sober up, becoming serious. When Harry claims to be in love with the dead girl his friend is unsure of what to do, but reluctantly goes along with a makeshift marriage ceremony on the beach.
After seven years in prison, Rudy Vandekerckhove has set himself two clear objectives: get back to work as a washing machine repairman, and – more importantly – become reconciled with the family he had left behind. But despite the help and support of Denise, a retired hairdresser, and his friend Rachid, his plans fail. Just when a reunion eventually comes within sight, the past gets the upper hand again, and Rudy has to take the toughest decision of his life. Continue reading
Director Raphaël Jacoulot’s dark and atmospheric mystery, set in an isolated high-Pyrenees hotel, has all the desired elements – precise and intelligent direction, excellent casting and a great plotline in the Chabrol-Simenon tradition.
The events, as they first unfold from an innocuous opening, quickly spiral downward for la famille Couvreur. One snowy evening, despotic hotel-owner Jacques Couvreur (Jean-Pierre Bacri) sends his incompetent son down into the valley to re-stock several cases of wine. The son collides with a pedestrian and for some reason the father decides to hide the truth and say nothing about the hit-and-run accident. A young trainee, Frédéric (Vincent Rottiers), just released from prison and re-starting his life, becomes implicated in this strange affair. Inspector Poncet (Sylvie Testud), in her endearing and off-putting Columbo-esque investigative style, strives to uncover the truth behind the discovery of the corpse. Continue reading
Yvan and Elie are two loners who wander aimlessly through their lives. Yvan is a quick-tempered 40-year-old vintage car dealer while Elie is a young burglar and ex-junkie. One day Yvan catches Elie trying to rob him. Instead of beating him up, he becomes strangely attached to him and agrees to drive him home to his parents in his old Chevrolet. Yvan and Elie are both nostalgic about lost relationships, which is what leads them to undertake a bizarre journey through a region that is as spectacular as it is crazy. Both are trying to find the pieces of a puzzle that they want to put back together, but it might be too late.
Loosely based on the fifth volume of Proust’s monolithic À La recherche du temps perdu, La Captive is a dark study of obsessive love from Chantal Akerman, currently one of Belgian’s most highly rated film directors. The feel of the film is more a psychological thriller than a traditional romantic drama, with frequent references to Hitchcock’s Vertigo more than evident.
The most striking feature of the film is its austere cinematography. Most of the film is set at night or within darkened rooms (which no matter how large appear stiflingly claustrophobic), something which constantly emphasises the prisoner-gaoler relationship of the two young lovers. Add to that the restrained (yet effective) performances of the two lead actors and the result is a hauntingly existentialist work, a chilling black poem of a fairytale romance twisted and ultimately obliterated by perverse mental aberrations. Continue reading