30 January 2009 | raymond-massart
How past & present interact
This 10-part series ("The Taste of De Keyser") tells the story of three generations of the "jenever" distillers De Keyser ("jenever" is a typical Flemish & Dutch alcoholic beverage which can be compared to Gin) that starts in 1939 and ends in 1970. The plot evolves mainly around the mother figure Helena, her daughter Martine and her grandchild Alessandra. Helena who is madly in love with Alfred sees her dreamlike world abruptly come to an end at the outbreak of the war. Alfred and his best friend George who is also in love with Helena and extremely jealous of their relationship, are called up to join the army and sent off to defend their country against the Germans. They are captured and sent to a prisoners of war camp where Alfred is killed. Years later, the old and dying Helena who has never had a satisfying answer to the question of what really happened to Alfred and how he died, instructs her granddaughter Helena to dig into the past and find out the truth. The action often goes back and forth between the past and the present and astonishingly enough the many flashbacks are never annoying as is so often the case in current features. We see how the war transforms the frivolous young Helena into an increasingly embittered older woman, how she eventually marries George in a desperate attempt to cling to her memories of Alfred, how the past always creeps back on us and determines the present and above all how the quest for perfection which has always been Helena's ultimate aim by discovering "the perfect taste" in the distillation process, lives on in her grandchild ( hence the title) There are many sub-plots to this story which all come together in the end and therefore form a remarkable entity but are better not revealed at present so as not to spoil the experience of the viewer. Frank Van Passel and Jan Matthys have succeeded in making an intriguing and entertaining visual document based on a convincing story. Excellent camera-work , often slow-paced but never boring and not in the least, a beautiful music score ( Wim De Wilde) Superb acting on the part of the whole male and female cast with a special mention for Marieke Dillens, Katelijne Damen and Laura Verlinden.