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Harry arrives in Brussels, meets, and falls in love with tram driver Jeanne. He rents an apartment near the "Manneken Pis" stop, and gets a job in the restaurant "La Croquette Magique". The slightly eccentric concierge of his apartment block, Denise, happens to be Jeanne's best friend, and with her attempts to bring Harry and Jeanne closer together, a game of attraction and repulsion begins that will affect not only their own lives but also the lives of those around them. Written by
L.H. Wong <email@example.com>
Manneken Pis, Flemish, 1995. Director Frank van Passel, starring Frank Vercruyssen. Viewed at Rouen Nordic Film Festival, 2007. During the 1990s the Flemish language cinema in Belgium experienced what might be called a minor Golden Age when one gem after another was produced featuring a bevy of excellent local actors. Largely overlooked outside of Belgium itself. One outstanding Flemish drama of the nineties is "Mannekin Pis", directed by Frank van Passel in 1995. This one was not completely overlooked, winning the Prix de la Semaine de la Critique at Cannes in '95 and also selected as the best Belgian film of the year in 1996. "Manneken Pis", (little boy urinating), is a famous landmark in Brussels but the film does not take place there. The reference is to the key incident in the film when the hero, as a young boy, asked his parents to stop at a railroad crossing so that he could relieve himself by the side of the road. An onrushing train killed the entire family and the boy, Harry, woke up in an orphanage the next morning, having lost all his hair. This traumatic experience has left Harry, now a young man with a shiny bald pate, unable to express his feelings. He falls in love with a warm hearted pixie-like tramway conductress, Jeanne (Antje de Boeck), who happens to live in the same tenement building as he does. Their difficult relationship is overseen by the salty old widow, Denise (Ann Petersen), who is the concierge of the abode and watches over Jeanne like a mother hen. After many false starts, just when it looks like Harry will finally break out of his trance and will be able to reciprocate the love offered him, Jeanne who has a weak heart, dies in his arms. An extremely touching love story, again superbly carried off by all performers, also featuring Frank Vercruyssen as Harry in a truly memorable character creation by an actor one wants to see more of. Ps: This review dedicated to the victims of Islam in Brussels.
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