Another musical endeavor is what we get from one of Belgium's finest directors Felix Van Groeningen, after his Oscar-nominated 'The Broken Circle Breakdown'. Instead of looking at the artists making the music, we take a closer look at those providing a venue.
Based on the true history of Ghent's famous bar Charlatan we move to the other side of St. Jacob's Church in Ghent, to Café Belgica (the real bar named Afsnis): a child's dream of two alienated brothers (beautifully acted by Stef Aerts and Tom Vermeir) come true. Of course, these brothers aren't children anymore, and as their success grows, so do their dysfunctional realities beyond the dream.
'Belgica' is great, or at least the cafe is. Rarely have exuberant parties and decadent behaviour been put to the big screen with such style and . The camera flies around at a pace set by the beats of Soulwax in the middle of sweat, flirtation, dancing, yelling, and doing lines. A better party music clip has not been released since The Prodigy's "Smack My Bitch Up". However, just like any great party, there's a painful hangover looming up ahead. Life outside the cafe is not only boring for our brothers but also for us. Each subplot is dotted with forgetful two-dimensional characters; terrible acting performances (especially Charlotte Vandermeersch - Felix van Groeningen's wife no less - is extremely disturbing); and unoriginal ideas. I wouldn't go as far as saying it's a "style over substance" movie, but the substance that's there is decadently basic.
This isn't on the same level as Van Groeningen's two previous films, it does not shine as much in its originality nor its script. Yet it has made me pumped again for a good party, regardless of the drama afterwards. With its soundtrack playing in the background, I have to admit that I haven't felt that way in a long time.
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