Posts Tagged ‘Belgian Cinema’

The Enemy (2021)

Wri/Dir: Stephan Streker | Cast: Jeremie Renier, Alma Jodorowsky, Emmanuelle Bercot | Belgium/France Thriller, 105′

Part romantic thriller, part prison drama, the early scenes of The Enemy feel like something Terrence Malick may have made earlier in his career, but is now brought to you by Belgian critic turned director Stephan Streker.

Jeremie Reiner plays lovesick Rottweiler Louis Durieux convinced he’s being cuckolded by his flirty wife Maeva (Alma Jodorowsky) while they frolic through a series of emotionally charged encounters in beachside Ostend, enjoying rampant sex and winning big at the Casino.

But the loved-up atmosphere soon descends into a police procedural after Louis wakes up to tragedy and is forced to hire the services of a lawyer (Bercot as Beatrice Rondas) to defend him in a murder case that grows increasingly opaque when the press (as usual) blow it up out of all proportion. Meanwhile, Louis languishes in prison where he meets some ‘real’ people, sharing a cell with a colourful character called Pablo Pasarela de la Pena (Maritaud).

The film goes off the rails in the drawn out final act where Rondas tries to prove her client’s innocence. Trouble is, Louis is such a repellent, charmless individual and the cartoonish Renier does nothing to make us care whether he’s guilty or not. Zacharie Chasseriaud almost saves the day in an underwritten role as his son, Julien, injecting some much needed charisma into the torpid final stages. 

More fascinating to watch than the film itself is Renier’s hairstyle which looks like the turbo-charged tonsor of a medieval dauphin. Lacquered up to within an inch of its life to start with, it then takes on a different guise in every single scene, literally commanding your entire attention and getting it in lieu of a gripping plot-line. MT



Patrick | De Patrick (2019) Bfi Player

Dir: Tim Mielants; Cast: Kevin Janssens, Josse de Pauw, Hannah Hoekstra, Jemaine Clement Katelinje Damen, Ariane van der Velt, Pierre Bokma; Belgium 2019, 97 min.

Peaky Blinders’ Tim Mielants won the directing prize at Karlovy Vary for this subversive tragicomedy that takes place in a Belgian nudist camp fraught with scheming machiavellians.

In his late thirties the naive main character Patrick (Janssens) is still living with his father Rudy (de Pauw) and blind mother Nelly (Damen). They run a summer camp fraught with  scantily dressed, middle-aged holiday-makers. Rudy is on his last legs but his son has no aptitude for business, and so he relies on Herman (Bokma), whose wife Liliane (Van Welt) projects her lust on the undersexed Patrick.

Into this bizarre environment comes Natalie (Hoekstra) whose unfaithful musician boyfriend Dustin (Clement) immediately strikes up a relationship with another adoring female. So Natalie decides to turn her attentions to Patrick whose sideline as a joiner now becomes central to the narrative, and the tool of his trade, a hammer, one of the main protagonists. When Rudy dies, Herman and Liliane plan to take over the place, declaring Patrick ‘not fit for purpose’, in running the camp’s affairs – not least because his hammer was the weapon of choice in a catastrophe that cost the commune their entire funds. It soon emerges that the hammer was also the weapon used in a murder in Brussels.

Even though the naturalists proclaim to be progressive, they are really straight out of the 1950s. Mielants’ humour does not always come off, and De Patrick often feels repetitive – the running time could be tightened up a tab. But there are enough contradictions to keep the show on the road, and Janssens makes for a brilliant anti-hero. AS


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