13-year-old Gunther Strobbe grows up surrounded by alcohol, trash and his completely useless father and uncles. Slowly but surely, he's being prepared for the same hapless life. Can he defy his destiny?
Felix van Groeningen
Koen De Graeve
1969. Nine-year old Caro lives on a pig farm in a small town with her four other siblings and another on the way. She is curious and determined to understand the mysteries of the world around her. But her devout catholic father can't explain the new world and her mother is too busy for philosophy so she converses to God. One day at school she is horrified to learn that man will soon set foot on the moon. In her eyes it's not possible that God would allow anyone to get so close to Heaven. Her clowning father agrees and, unable to cope with modern-day progress, hits the bottle. Caro is preparing for her first holy communion to become 'a bride of God' but before that she seals a pact with her father to overcome her fear of swimming in exchange, he will not touch a drop of alcohol. Written by
I watched this film recently at the Hong Kong Int Film Fest and found it, as stated, to be honest and touching. Honest, from the point of view that the story is dealing with religious/social feelings and 'obligations' in late 60's Belgium, and I'm sure they would apply to other areas of Europe at the same time. The fact that the family is coping with an alcoholic father/husband and the whole community knows about his habit is also very honest.
Some of the more touching parts of the film are the daughters attitude to her forthcoming holy communion and her imagination of what communion means for her 'relationship' with God. Also, the portrayal of how children behave when growing up, the telling of a secret, for example is well observed.
Not having seen any other films from Belgium, I cannot comment on whether it merited a nomination for the Academy Awards over any other film produced in 2003. But, what I can say is that the film has nothing to be ashamed of. It has treated the issues sensitively and honestly. Giving a good insight into the attitudes of the era.
This film was entertaining to watch. 7.5/10
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