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Felix van Groeningen

Belgica * Felix van Groeningen (2016)

Another good film from Flanders!

A young man starts a pub and when his older brother joins the effort, they soon enlarge the cafe to a successful nightclub. With the help of a load of friends they want to have an open club in which everybody is welcome and in which any type of music can be played or performed.

The Flemish language makes the film funny even when there are no jokes, but in basis the film is a drama about how friendship is tested when what starts as a fun project becomes larger and needs to be managed. Especially the relation between the two brothers makes a large part of the story.

The film is good and entertaining. There is quite a lot of interesting music in it too, so I need to see if I can find out if these are existing bands.

Broken Circle Breakdown * Felix van Groeningen (2012)

In spite of the English title, this Flemish film is spoken in Dutch. “Broken Circle Breakdown” is a pretty heavy drama. The America-lover bluegrass musician Didier and the tattoo artist Elise fall in love. For a couple of years their relation is easy, but when Elise gets pregnant things change. After the birth of their daughter things did not change for the worse, but when the daughter is diagnosed cancer, it does.

The film jumps back and forth in time, alternating the happy periods of Didier’s and Elise’s lives with Didiers weird friends, his house in the middle of nowhere and performances of the band (that Elise joined). In other seems we see the couple struggling through their misery.

“Broken Circle Breakdown” is a good film, but I think I have seen enough drama for a while.

De Helaasheid Der Dingen * Felix van Groeningen (2009)

The title actually means “the unfortunateness of things”, but the international title of this Flemish film appears to be “The Misfortunates”. We hear the story of Gunther Strobbe as he looks back at his youth, in particular the period in which he with his alcoholic father and his alcoholic brothers lived with Gunther’s grandmother. The lowlife Strobbe family are a manace in their community, save for the owners of pubs. With getting drunk and having fun as virtually the only goal in life, we watch the Strobbes perform their weird contests and drink-given fights. “De Helaasheid Der Dingen” is a very entertaining film that deserves the attention it gets in my country. I do not know how the attention is internationally, but should you be able to watch it, make sure you do.