|Index||6 reviews in total|
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.
Some novelists are crowned as God and you just ask why. Willem Elsschot is one of them, every Dutschspeaking student is forced to read at least one (boring) novel by him and seeing "Lijmen" was more a sort of forcing thing than anything else, but how wrong I was! Robbe De Hert made an amusing story of all times out of it...this deals about salesmen without any heart and who can let people simple everything. Boorman (to my great surprises a fantastic performance by TVlegend Mike Verdrengh) visits shops and tells them he will write an article about them...in fact a whole special issue will be dedicated to their business and of course it ends up that at the end they all buy their issues themselves...and he only has rule : business is business, no regrets. A very enjoyable film with only one problem : the last 5 minutes...it was like Robbe (in fact it wasn't such a pretty thing as he almost ended up fighting with his Dutch producer) had to find a Hollywoodending. Despite this, "Lijmen/Het Been" is a great Belgian movie!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I never thought I would like this movie, but it turned out to be one of the
biggest surprises in Belgian cinema history for me. My expectations were
really low because of a few indicators. It's based on a book by the famous
Belgian writer Willem Elsschot. It's thick and boring. They actually tried
to force me to read it once when I was in school. I didn't read it and took
pleasure with my F. Some of my former classmates did read it and they said
it was dull, difficult and most UNinteresting. Also, I was even less
enthusiast when I heard Robbe De Hert was set to direct Lijmen / het Been.
He may be Belgium's most known famous director but he usually tries to be
too controversial and two of his previous films ( Blueberry Hill, Brylcream
Boulevard ) were failures because of that.
But enough with the complaining, after all ... Lijmen / het Been is a very good movie and not at all hard to follow. The actors very well cast and the use of decors and settings of Belgium in the 1930's are just GREAT !! There's plenty of humor, drama, sentiment and even a bit of suspense to detect in the whole finished product. ***SPOILERS *** Mike Verdrengh ( a true Belgian TV legend ) is brilliant as the sophisticated swindler who publishes a sort business magazine. With a lot of smooth talk and promises, he knows how to convince many people to make a special issue of the magazine around their company. Most of the people who're talked into this by him end up all broke and bankrupt. The weird title "Lijmen / het Been " ( roughly translated "to glue / the Leg "... yeah, I know ...weird ) refers to both how he made his biggest deal AND the element that brought him down finally down. "Lijmen" is an expression that means smooth talking and "Het Been" refers to the handicap his last costumer suffered from...a wooden leg.
The whole story is told through a flashback but the story is pretty chronological. No Pulp Fiction or Memento style in other words. There really are good Dutch and Belgian films out there to discover. We may not have the best reputation when it comes to cinema but we do exist. Lijmen / het Been proves that. Cinema buffs will certainly recognize the original ( and still beautiful ) Sylvia "Emanuelle" Kristel as the prostitute. Highly recommended, but please don't watch it dubbed in English, German or any other language...This is one of the few times that the Dutch language really does justice to the quality of the story
This movie is one of the 4 great Belgian movies in 2000. The other three
were 'Pauline & Paulette', 'Iedereen Beroemd' & 'Team Spirit'. There are
some old Dutch legends in this movie like Willeke Van Ammelrooy, Sylvia
Kristel, Jan Decleir and a cameo for Marilou Mermans. It is a very
story to explain but it is easy to understand the meaning of this film with
a lot of flashbacks. I found the film worth to watch. There is only one
problem, the ending. I had the feeling that the film wasnt ready yet, maybe
there comes a sequel. I hope so!
***1/2 out of **** or 8,5/10
Worth to watch!!
This film is only slightly different then the book from Willem Elsschot. I enjoyed the film, because of it's photography of the 30s and the impressive character of Boormans. Of course, it would be better to read the book first: then you enjoy the visualisation of the characters you read - although I wonder if the book has ever been translated into English. Finally, I guess that the film will be more appriciated in Western-Europe, since those countries developped about the same during history. With other words: the photography shows a bit of our past (except for some Belgian specific things of course), in contrary to the US.
Lijmen/Het been is an overall well made film by Robbe De Hert, based on the novels 'Lijmen' and 'Het been' by Willem Elsschot, one of Belgiums most talented writers. The story about the dealings of a refined hustler, Boorman who makes a living selling his 'Algemeen Wereldtijdschrift voor Financiën, Handel, Nijverheid, Kunsten en Wetenschappen' (basically nothing more than a glorified advertising brochure) to unsuspecting business managers. He hires Laarmans as his secretary and together they keep swindling until a deal with madam Lauwereyssen (Willeke van Ammelrooy) puts the latter out of business, which leaves Laarmans and even Boorman guilt-stricken. Of course Elsschot's strong point, his prosaic writing style loses its flair being transposed to the silver screen. Nevertheless the story is strong enough to keep the viewer interested throughout the film, in no small part due to acting performance of Mike Verdrengh (Boorman). Koen De Bouw, albeit a decent actor is totally miscast for the part of Laarmans. I think Josse De Pauw does a better job at portraying him in Kaas (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0231846/).
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