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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."