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  • Warning: Spoilers
    A young man on the run from the police wants to leave Belgium and flee towards South-America. A chance encounter in a music shop causes him to meet another misfit, to wit a once-celebrated maestro fallen on hard times. Both men become friends, under VERY challenging conditions...

    "De laatste vriend" is probably best described as a mix of drama and tragicomedy. This, I'm sorry to say, isn't a very good movie. On the other hand it lacks the juicy, exuberant, what-were-they-thinking-of kind of badness that would cause it to stick in the mind. It's mediocre, period.

    The movie is supposed to tell a story about the birth and development of a deep friendship, but there's little in the story that rings true or hits the mark. Two outcasts in grievous trouble meet through some trick of coincidence, sink a few drinks together, exchange a few confidences - and hey presto, look ! they've become as close and complicit as brothers. In its own way the movie is as lazy as one of these romantic movies or novels where the hero and heroine meet during a beach barbecue, exchange a few meaningful looks, and storm off in order to challenge the world about their forbidden but undying love.

    The acting is uneven. I liked Jan Lauwers as Nick Driesen - he was good at projecting a simmering danger - but I noticed a few actors who should have limited themselves to regional amateur theater. Indeed, large swathes of the movie suggest good intentions undone by inexperience and amateurism. The production budget too seems to have been limited to the point of poverty.

    In my humble opinion "De laatste vriend" will appeal mainly to those Flemings of a certain age who would like to see some famous or semi-famous faces from their youth. The inhabitants of Mechelen, or Malines as you may know it, can derive some extra pleasure from re-visiting a number of local haunts, such as a well-known musical instruments shop. ("Look ! Look, children ! This is the exact same spot where granny lost the heel of one of her shoes ! She slipped and fell on her behind, bang on top of the large meringue pie she'd just bought !")

    In fairness I need to add that the visual aspect of the movie seems to have deteriorated as a result of age-related degradation. The colours, for instance, seem to have changed considerably from the original. From this perspective my review may be unjustly harsh.