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Ties and Ropes (2001)

Le bal des pantins (original title)
Malaysia, in the fifties. Raymond, a wealthy rubber planter is going to die and decides to leave his fortune to his daughter who lives in Europe. Marcel does not agree with this decision.


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Credited cast:
Delphine Bibet ...
François Beukelaers ...
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Emile Abossolo M'bo
Valérie Bodson
Cecilia Kankonda ...
(as Cecilia Bapa Kankonda)
Philippe Noesen
Alain Pieret ...
Doubler driver
Alexandre Roos ...
Loulou (singing voice)


Malaysia, in the fifties. Raymond, a wealthy rubber planter is going to die. He decides to leave all his fortune to his daughter Loulou who lives in Europe. Marcel, his friend and associate, is angry about this decision he finds unfair. He decides to make his way to Europe... Marcel arrives in the Roxy, a cabaret along the Meuse sides, in Belgium. He meets Loulou, the Roxy's star and all the characters living around her in this microcosm. Loulous sings and dances like a puppet. Shining angel on the stage, manipulating demon in life. Little by little, Marcel gets into this world and breaks up the balance which was fragile. Written by Hannelore Goossens

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Release Date:

30 May 2001 (Belgium)  »

Also Known As:

Ties and Ropes  »

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User Reviews

Most Underrated Belgian Movie of All Time
11 July 2003 | by (Brugge, Belgium) – See all my reviews

Being from Belgium, I realize that our national movie industry is often (unfairly) treated like a big joke by international critics. A modest output with the odd failure (CLOSE, anyone ?) may not impress the cynical though we have produced our share of gems such as MASCARA, MALPERTUIS and GASTON'S WAR.

LE BAL DES PANTINS, which I saw theatrically in Brussels during its all too brief run, is one of the strangest, lyrically poetic and most hauntingly beautiful films made on my home turf or, indeed, anywhere else.

Following the death of his business partner Raymond, with whom he operates a rubber plantation in Malaysia during the 1950s, handsome young Marcel (Marc Duret) sets out in search of the old man's estranged daughter Loulou to whom he has left all his belongings, the plan being to seduce the inheritance out from under her. When he locates the girl (Inge Paulussen) in a rundown Belgian nightclub where she performs torch songs between mud fights (yep, you've read that right...), he discovers she's an embittered paraplegic, overprotected by her mother, also the club's owner (veteran actress Andréa Ferréol). Hiding his true identity, Marcel gets a job as a technician at the bar, devising an elaborate marionette-like structure as to allow Loulou to be moved about during her upcoming new act. He gets so involved in the plight of this strange and willful girl that he comes to love the one he chose to victimize. But will her friends and family be quite so understanding when they find out who he really is ?

Delicately acted (though Duret occasionally hams it up when he should have been reigned in) and directed with a sure hand by Herman Van Eyken (whose first feature film this is, astonishingly), this film presents viewers with an original and quite unique love story set against the unlikeliest of circumstances. The narrative only stumbles sporadically during the mid-section yet richly rewards viewer patience. Above all, this film contains without doubt one of the most incredible musical sequences ever concocted, Loulou's intricate stage act to Arno's gently ironic "(Il est) Tombé Du Ciel", a breathtaking scene of such invention and poetry mere words could never do justice to.

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