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les ardennes

Saw this at the Ghent film festival 2015, where it was part of the official opening night. Programming a Belgian movie at a Belgian film festival may seem suspicious if not chauvinistic. On the other hand, for a prestigious film festival like Ghent's, we can safely assume they present something at the opening night deserving such an advantageous position. And indeed, it was worthy of its place. The one negative is the potential problem I see upfront due to the uneven genre mixing, criminal action next to family drama. It may not attract its intended audience, or others having bought tickets may find themselves misplaced during a screening.The story starts with the immediate aftermath of a failed home jacking. We never see or hear the ugly details, only what is shown to us in the opening scene where Dave enters the getaway car, obviously in sheer panic, while uttering words along the line that it all went very wrong and that they need to leave forthwith. When asked what happened with their mate Kenneth, no real answer is given. Later on we see Kenneth in court where he is sentenced to 7 years in prison, the maximum penalty due to his crime history. What really happened when he was left behind on the crime scene, remains unclear. Nevertheless, it still burdens their relationship when Kenneth is released after 4 years. We can only assume that Dave's failed part in the home jacking never became public, and that guilty secret is used by Kenneth after his release to blackmail Dave, pushing Dave to actions he actually abhors, stretching Dave's resolution to live as a law abiding citizen to the limit.And there is a second guilty secret, of a completely different category. Dave wants to tell Kenneth something all along, but we see that he never succeeds in finding the right moment or the right words. It has to do with Kenneth's former girl friend Sylvie, who we see initially as member of a self-help group, where she is applauded for staying drugs free for 2 years. It happens that the same Sylvie is pregnant from Dave, and that they are on the lookout for a home on their own. Hence it is logical that we see Dave avoiding involvement in any of Kenneth's actions. Moreover, for the sake of their worrying mother, Dave keeps a continuous eye on Kenneth, and even follows him on a distance on various occasions. Including the worrying mother, these are the four main protagonists that carry the story from start to finish.Kenneth's outfit, posture and hairstyle suggest overly clear (too much?) that he is a loose cannon without any intention for a career change. His behavior is overbearing from the outset, at first merely pushy yet without violence, but losing more and more restraints later on. In the last half hour, it escalates beyond control, thereby gaining nothing in the end and leaving only losers. His brother Dave succeeds in keeping his hands clean, though ultimately involved in an act of deadly force albeit as a matter of self-defense.We witness a lot of violence in the proceedings, but it is an inherent part of the story and not filmed just for shocking purposes. Most of the violence is suggested rather than shown in raw detail. Nevertheless, it leaves a depressed feeling on the viewer, at least that happened to me, by demonstrating that there are really people who think and live that way, and assume their own goals to be important enough to harm other people in the process.All in all, the focus of the story changes back and forth from criminal action to the relationship between the two brothers and the family members around them. Violence and crime are not the main ingredient, only the binding element to show how the relationship between the two brothers develops, given aforementioned guilty secrets kept from the outside world as well as between themselves. Though the violence is not made explicit, the criminal actions tend to distract from the real story that ultimately carries the drama. Viewers who are interested in action movies, will not be happy with the emphasis on family relationships. Viewers who are interested in family drama, will be discouraged by the crimes that overshadow a considerable number of scenes. In other words, a mixed bag that will not satisfy either category of viewers. Yet, well made and well-acted, but the final product is just above average by trying to humor two categories of viewers who both will leave the theater disappointed.

Genre(s): Drama

Année: 14 Oct 2015

Acteur(s): Robin Pront,

Réalisateur(s): Veerle Baetens, Jan Bijvoet, Eric Godon, Jeroen Perceval,

Mots-cléf: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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