23 December 2012 | rubenm
Authentic, atmospheric Flemish film
The very first scene of this film shows that Peter Monsaert is a talented director. We see a static image of cars and trucks passing on a road, but we also see a pattern of black lines from the top to the bottom of the screen. After a few seconds, the flutter of a bird becomes visible and we realize the lines are in fact a bird cage, positioned in front of the camera lens. After a few more seconds, while the camera remains static, the cage is removed and carried into a waiting bus by a man.
In itself this is a strong scene, but only after seeing the whole film the symbolism becomes clear. The man has just been released from prison, so the bird cage in fact represents the bars behind which he has spent seven years of his life.
The viewer follows the man, Rudy, while he tries to find an apartment and a job, and unsuccessfully contacts his ex-wife. After a while, he becomes obsessed with a young web-cam girl. The girl, in turn, is intrigued by this anonymous man who isn't interested in her taking off her bra, but in really getting to know her.
What follows, is the slow disentangling of a web of traumatic family secrets. The script very cleverly gives the viewer small hints, the meaning of which becomes clear as the film progresses.
Monsaert has made a fine atmospheric film, that captures the viewer from beginning to end. The use of local dialects gives the movie a nice authentic feeling, but unfortunately necessitated the use of subtitles, even for the Flemish audiences.
I was particularly pleased with the way he used locations in the Belgian city Ghent, which happens to be the city I live in. Instead of showing the picturesque city centre, he sets the story in the gritty, industrial north side, with its rows of small working-class houses and cheap high-rise buildings overlooking the harbour docks.
This film was a big success at the festival of Amiens. Hopefully, it can become a hit in the festival circuit after its run in the Flemish cinemas.