|Index||4 reviews in total|
Everybody who went to college and had good friends there, or spent lots
of careless time with wild and young companions, will be deeply
affected by this film. Dagen Zonder Lief shows us in a glowing, slow
burning way what we all know: nothing lasts forever, not even
friendship. The wonderful characters in Dagen Zonder Lief were young
together and had loads of fun, as the subtle flashbacks show us, but
those days are over. One is married and has a little baby; another one
left for New York; yet another one is about to enter the snobbish world
of his snobbish girlfriend. There's still a spark when they meet, but
that's it: just a spark. Not the burning fire of the old days. The
suicide of one or their common friends and the inexplicable need to
settle prevents them from truly reliving the old days. They hardly ever
mention it, but you can see it in their every movement and expression.
The acting is wonderful, the music subtle and sentiment non existing. Dagen Zonder Lief is without a doubt the best Belgian movie since Iedereen Beroemd (2000)
IFFR writes: "Youth's innocence and freedom from care, so close by and
yet so remote: That is the great disillusionment of twenty-somethings.
A fresh Flemish variation on this theme: five friends are confronted
with reality when one of them returns to the provincial town of St.
Niklaas. Beautiful soundtrack by Jef Neve.
Only three years after his debut Steve + Sky, the Flemish Felix van Groeningen has finished his second feature. With Friends Like These is a refreshing variation on a well-known theme: twenty-somethings on the way to thirty look back at their youth that is gone forever. At first sight, the four friends from With Friends Like These are doing well: Zwarte Kelly leads a flashy existence in the New York fashion scene. Frederic has a rich girlfriend and is about to move to Brussels. Kurt has a wife, child and Labrador and runs a web-shop for robot-gadgets. And bar owner Nick? Oh, he's just his loafing self. When Zwarte Kelly unexpectedly returns to her old home - to 'ask her mother something' - she is the unintentional catalyst of tempestuous events. Everyone does his best to make the mood what it once was, but too much has changed. Frederic is henpecked by his beloved and Kurt suffers mysterious blackouts. When Kurt suddenly leaves his wife and child, Frederic and Nick go looking for him. Calmly and using sober stylistic techniques, Van Groeningen sketches the inner world of the protagonists. The streets and squares of the town are deserted, they keep driving round the same roundabout. The beautiful jazzy score by pianist Jef Neve contributes to the melancholy mood."
Zwarte (Black) Kelly, now a blonde but for the rest still her old self,
returns (temporarily?) to her roots after a New York adventure. Through
her we're introduced to a group of people in their late-twenties, who
previously formed a close circle of friends. Kurt (a former boyfriend
to Black Kelly) and she have a son and a dog. Kurt's best friend
Frédéric bows to the whims of his rich girlfriend. Nick is the party
animal who hasn't changed one bit, and Patrick is just a reminder of
times gone by. The return of Black Kelly works as a catalyst in the
group: they reminisce, blow new life into their dreams, confront each
other and expose feelings which have been concealed for years. In
short, the searching characters are heading straight into conflict:
with their past, each other, themselves and their ambitions.
The ambiguity which Kelly's return invokes is acted out strongly by the cast. Led by a fascinating Wine Dierickx (theatre group Wunderbaum and Maybe Sweden) the ensemble cast draws a template for a confused generation. Living in a dull provincial town, their existence seems to have shaped up nicely, but the arrival of Kelly sheds light upon the cracks in their enamel. Provincial town Sint-Niklaas serves as a background, and the emptiness of its ambitious city squares contrasts beautifully with the 'small' nature of the residents. The many aerial shots and images of roundabouts give the film a poetic layer and illustrate the quest that the characters are undergoing. Using strong dialogue, situations which are often very funny and a lively soundtrack (which combines piano with trance music) Felix van Groeningen outlines a strong portrait of young adulthood and the choices that go with it. Inevitably friends grow apart, a painful experience for the group circling Black Kelly, but due to the familiarity of the theme also for the viewer.
Incredibly dull and pointless film with bad, self-consciously 'real'
acting. It starts out with totally uninteresting scenes of one of the
lead characters returning from New York - no character development, no
interesting events... Just semi-documentary boredom. The acting is bad,
the dialog is insipid, the storytelling non-existent... Top this off
with puerile 'humour' and you have a truly losing combination. Endless
'conversations' about painting a garden shed, burping contests, and
characters which are spectacularly uninteresting. Why make a film about
how boring life is - and have that film be even more boring than real
Either go out and spend time with your friends or watch paint dry, both options are infinitely more exciting than this self-indulgent tripe.
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