All Justin and his father want to do is sit down and enjoy a soccer game together. This simple act sparks a chain of events leading to Justin running from the law. He must embark on a ...
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All Justin and his father want to do is sit down and enjoy a soccer game together. This simple act sparks a chain of events leading to Justin running from the law. He must embark on a thrilling adventure to re-unite with his father. But in order to fight the system, he must enlist the help of a former anarchist and together they will need to apply the secret of the HOP. Written by
Hop (2002), directed by Dominique Standaert, is really two films that are patched together in the same movie. The first third of the movie depicts two undocumented immigrants from Burundi who live in Brussels. Dieudonné, (Ansou Diedhiou) and his son Justin, (Kalomba Mboyi) have a quiet--if marginalized--life in a working-class neighborhood. It's clear that father and son love and respect each other, and that they're both intelligent and resourceful human beings.
Through a series of unfortunate circumstances, Dieudonné is arrested, and Justin ends up living with an alcoholic anarchist--Frans (played by Jan Declair) and his housekeeper, Gerda (Antje de Boeck). The interactions among the three are complex and interesting.
At this point the plot moves in a different direction, and becomes essentially a caper film-- can this unlikely trio actually free the boy's father from imprisonment and deportation.
The acting is uniformly excellent. Both Decleir and de Boeck are veteran Belgian actors, and they are highly competent professionals. (de Boeck may be a little too attractive for her part, but she conveys intelligence and compassion extremely well.)
Mboyi and Diedhiou are both newcomers, and they are extraordinarily talented. They look and act like father and son, and it was hard to remember that they were really just two actors doing a fine professional job.
For the caper part of the film, Standaert brings in the glamorous Alexandra Vandernoot as the tough, competent Police Commissioner Taminiaux. Her role didn't really call for much screen time, but when you've managed to sign a beautiful, nationally-famous actor to co-star in an independent movie, you'd better be prepared to work her into every possible scene.
The famous Belgian football hero Emile Mpenza is mentioned throughout the film, and he has a cameo part at the end. The movie has several clever touches like that. It's definitely worth seeing, and, in my opinion, it's much better than its dismal IMDb rating of 6.8 would suggest.
I think Hop will work very well on DVD. (Belgium is a wonderful tourist destination, but it doesn't have much scenic grandeur that would require a large screen.) We saw it at the Alan Lutkus International Film Series presented by SUNY Geneseo.
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