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Koen De Graeve
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A good movie, but he should leave the direction of movies to someone else.
I guess there isn't a Belgian who could claim that he has never heard of Hugo Claus before. As a director he isn't very famous of course, but as a novelist he sure is one of the best Belgium has ever had. Almost every year we are told that Claus might win a Nobel Price for Literature. So far it has never happened, but who knows... With his pen sharper than a knife, not sparing anyone or anything (and certainly not the hypocrisy of the Catholic church), he sure deserves it.
"Het Sacrament" tells the story of a family reunion in the fifties. When it's the birthday of the maid of the priest of a small town in the North West of Belgium, he allows her to invite all her relatives in his house. But like in every family there are some problems. The bossy and depressed wife of one of the brothers is not accepted by the group, her son has been in a mental asylum and is clearly gay (still seen as a great sin at that time), one of the sisters once had an affair while being married and probably still has... The only person that seems to be pure and honest is Deedee, the priest, but as the movie progresses, he too appears to be of flesh and blood and not exactly blameless...
There can be no doubt about the fact that this was one of the finest casts that could ever play in a Flemish movie (A movie from the Dutch part of Belgium). With people like Ann Petersen, Frank Aendenboom, Jan Decleir, ... you can be certain of some very fine performances. But not only the acting is good, so is the story. It takes the time to develop itself, the characters and the situations are recognizable (especially for the Flemish viewers, but probably also for others) and Claus hasn't tried to make certain situations look nicer (I can't exactly tell you what I mean, but it has something to do with the priest Dee Dee at the end of the movie - just watch the movie and you'll know what I mean)... These things really make this movie worth watching. But not everything about it is perfect. The biggest problem that I had with the movie was the performance by Carl Ridders, playing Claude. His style just didn't completely fit in this movie. While the other performances are sober, his performance is a bit over the top. I wouldn't call it overacting, but it just doesn't seem right in this movie. Still, don't let that be a reason not to watch this movie.
Especially when you aren't familiar with the work of Hugo Claus, this movie might be very interesting to watch. Personally I still like his books more than his movies. He did a good job with this movie, but in my opinion he should stick to writing the novels and leaving the directing of the movies to someone else. It's not because you are excellent in one artistic field, that you will automatically be excellent in other fields as well. What he did was OK, but a professional director might have made it exceptional. I give this movie a 6.5/10.
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