What we have here, ladies and gentlemen of the - hopefully – international jury, is one of Belgium's most eccentric, atypical, provocative, innovative and brilliantly relevant TV-series ever made. And just because "Crimi Clowns" is all that, it sadly also is the most shamefully neglected and cowardly boycotted TV-series in Belgium In spite of all the great names in the cast and revolutionary (for Belgian standards) themes and visual aspects, the series only got aired on a secondary national channel and extremely late at night, while the copious amount of dreadful cooking programs and reality-show nonsense gets prime time. Oh well, I guess we could take comfort in the fact that "Crimi Clowns" instantly build up a modest cult reputation and a fair share of loyal fans, as well as the faith that great shows eventually will get the recognition they deserved all along. Meanwhile, there's already a long-feature film and a second season on its way, so I can't be entirely negative. "Crimi Clowns" spawned from the creative and pleasantly deranged brain of Luk Wyns. He's the writer, producer, director and lead star of the series, and he surrounded himself by a large cast of reliable names he frequently collaborates with. Wyns is a bit of a flamboyant outcast in Flanders Film land, as he uses pitch-black and absurd humor (he previously made a series about a dysfunctional family) and doesn't hesitate to insert explicit sexual content, graphic violence and sensitive social news topics. All these elements mixed together resulted in the fantastic formula of an Antwerp bunch that uses a clown act to cover up all their illegal activities and social misbehaviors.
Ronny (Luk Wyns) and Lou (the fabulous Manou Kersting) once were a very popular duo of clowns, but ever since Ronny was in prison for sexual assault of a minor, they only manage to occasionally perform at private birthday parties for children. That's not too bad, though, since they rob the house empty afterwards. Ronny, as well as his son Wesley who has rejoined them after his film school studies in Amsterdam, puts industrial amounts of drugs up his nose, provokes fights with the local Moroccan street gangs and literally spends fortunes on luxurious prostitutes even though they are in the debt of Jos "The Thief"; a local crime lord. For their clowns act, as well as for their burglary activities, they recruit the unique Mike, a midget clown with the special talent of being able to open any safe. In between all his professional stress, Ronny deals with his needy ex-wife, his rebellious mother and his estranged daughter who pursued a career as a topless dancer.
"Crimi Clowns" is groundbreaking and innovative according to Belgian standards, but obviously it borrows influences and stylistic ideas from famous and acclaimed international series. The opening credits are clearly inspired by "The Sopranos" (of which Luk Wyns is a big fan) and there are several more examples. The entire soundtrack is exhilarating, by the way. The show is also filmed in mockumentary/found-footage style, which is also never before seen in Belgium. Wesley registers the gang's activities with a hand-held camera and interviews them supposedly for a school project. This narrative style requires some getting used to and generates a few errors in continuity and logic, but it overall fits the tone and pace of the series. "Crimi Clowns" is the best Belgian series since "Matroesjka's" (another crime series, though revolving on the underground sex industry and people trade) and not coincidentally the two series share many cast and crew members. Personally, I tried to support the series as much as I could and even attended a marathon-showing of ALL episodes, plus the scoop of some unseen footage, in a movie theater and in the presence of Luk Wyns and several other lead stars. It was a fantastic experience and plan to purchase the second season very soon.
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