The second movie version, now in color, of Flemish (heimat-)author Ernest Claes' classical novel, titled after the nickname (Dutch 'the White', referring to a blond male) of the main ... See full summary »
Robbe De Hert
Plan Bart is a romantic comedy about competing desires -- sacrificing one's childhood dreams for the responsibilities of adulthood, air guitar championships for diapers and bottles, 'having... See full summary »
A group of teenagers, unprepared for their final exams due to their indulgence in more pleasurable pursuits, barricade themselves in their school and challenge their despised and sadistic ... See full summary »
Robbe De Hert
Babette van Veen,
In the 1890s, Father Adolf Daens goes to Aalst, a textile town where child labor is rife, pay and working conditions are horrible, the poor have no vote, and the Catholic church backs the ... See full summary »
Antje de Boeck
Willem is furious when a journalist makes fun of him because he acts hysterical in court during the Agusta scandal. He decides to kidnap the man and find out everything about him, but he discovers more than he bargained for.
Peter Van den Begin,
In the harbor of Rotterdam, an action group called "Redpeace" discovers illegal weapon transports. Those are executed by shipping-trade Kusters Shipping Company. The discovery is annoying ... See full summary »
Peter and Martina are a tourist couple on a vacation on the Croatian coast. Both are successful and in their prime. However, the couple is going through a crisis. Both are frustrated and ... See full summary »
I guess there aren't many Belgian students who have never been confronted with the work of Willem Elsschot. "Lijmen", "Kaas" and "Het Been" can be found on almost every literature list in secondary school and there is almost no way of avoiding it. And despite the fact that it probably has been well-written, no-one likes it. I guess I'm not exaggerating when I say that 99% of the students that had to read it, found it incredibly boring. Of course I understand that they wanted us to read a decent book instead of some cheap stories, but in my opinion it is the wrong period in your life to be confronted with this kind of story. But the damage has been done by then and not that many people are interested in the novels later on. And the movies based on these novels are confronted with the same problem. Many people know what the books were like and fear that the movies won't be any different. But I can assure you, this time it's a lot better...
The story of "Lijmen / Het Been" actually comes from two novels that have been merged into one. The movie starts with the "Lijmen" part (literally translated as 'to glue'). Together with Laarmans, we see how Boorman is arrested and taken to a mental asylum when he disrupts a public sale. That doesn't make too much sense at first, but with flashbacks we get an idea of how it could get that far. We see how it all started with Laarmans in a difficult financial situation. At that time he still works as a simple clerk in a brewery, when he is confronted with the death of his mother and the embalmer asking an enormous amount of money for his work. Laarmans doesn't have that amount of money and sees no other option but to go to Boorman, the only rich man that he knows, to ask for help. Boorman is the editor of some kind of international business magazine and sells his product, which in reality isn't much more but one big swindle, to all kinds of small business. He promises to help Laarmans with his problems and goes with him to the embalmer, who he offers an 'interesting' business deal. Once they have arranged the little problem with the embalmer, Boorman offers Laarmans a job, which will pay three times as much as his current job. All he has to do for it is to look and act like Boorman's secretary and to help him sell his magazine.
And Boorman is very good at what he does. With a lot of smooth talk, false promises and charming behavior, he's always able to convince the managers of small businesses to make a special issue of the magazine around their company, so they will have some excellent publicity, and of course only 'against a small cost'. In reality most people don't get any publicity from the magazine, but end up bankrupt and broken. One of his victims is Madam Lauwereyssen, who is the manager in a small company of blacksmiths, owned by her brother. The woman has a lot of health problems as one of her legs has been infected by some disease (that's where the second part of the title comes from. 'Het Been' literally means 'The Leg'). Boorman sees that the woman has some problems, knows that she refuses to have it treated in a hospital because of the costs, but being a tough salesman, he exploits her problem. With his smooth talking, he gives her a false feeling of affection and tells her what a fine and exceptional lady she actually is. She believes him and without too much trouble he convinces her to buy 100.000 copies. He's very happy with his victory, but than something strange happens to him. His conscience doesn't allow him to profit of the lady's bad luck and he decides to refund her. But despite the fact that she has lost her leg by now, she is a proud lady. She refuses any attempt of refunding, eventually her company goes bankrupt and all the goods are sold in a public sale...
As I already said, the novel is seen as very boring and not fun to read by most students. But now that I'm a bit older and probably also thanks to the fine work of Fernand Auwera and Robbe De Hert, who wrote the script, I must admit that I may have been wrong about it. I really liked this movie a lot and there are several reasons for it. One is of course the excellent adaption and fine storytelling, but what also makes this movie so good is the acting. Koen De Bouw is one of our best young actors and with the Dutch movie legends Willeke van Ammelrooy and Sylvia Kristel you know that you can expect some fine performances. But the man that surprised me most, was Mike Verdrengh as Boorman. Even though he isn't exactly known as an actor (the man is quite famous over here as a TV-personality and as the co-founder of our first commercial TV-station), he really did an excellent job and I'm sure there wouldn't have been many actors who could have done it better or even as good as him. This is a movie that is worth seeing, not only for Dutch speaking people, but for all people who are interested in seeing how salespeople sometimes work. Of course it's not completely the same, but I would like to compare it to the movie "Glengarry Glen Ross". I'm sure that the people who liked that one, will also like this movie. Both have some very fine acting and directing and a good story to offer. The only real difference is the time period and the place where it all has been situated. As a conclusion I would like to say that I give this movie a score in between 7.5/10 and 8/10.
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