17 February 2014 | MasterWodan
High quality homegrown.
'Eigen Kweek' is set in the West-Flanders area of Belgium, traditionally the farming side of Belgium. Jos and his wife Ria get scammed by a fraudulent bank manager, ending up losing all of their life savings while separated from their retirement by only a few years. As the insurance won't cover their losses, Jos in all his despair decides to use his land and farming skills to grow a crop far more lucrative than the potatoes he has been growing thus far : cannabis.
Although the story at first glance might seem like a rip-off of such movies as 'Saving Grace' or the highly acclaimed series 'Breaking Bad', the production crew behind 'Eigen Kweek' has managed to create a mini- series with a very distinguishable character of it's own, and also the story itself is more than adequately different from any other similar productions. While the main story line is about a farmer trying to hold his head above the waterline by means of growing cannabis, there are also several other, very well worked out subplots. One of which handles upon 'import- brides', in this specific case from the Philippines. On a more subconscious level it is also an excellent depiction of the erratic and kooky mentality and upbringing of unfortunately a lot of people, not only nowadays, but as well as in the recent past. This in terms of their regards towards the subject of drugs, as well as foreigners, social status and many other everyday subjects. In case of this specific series this is even more so true as it very effectively and accurately sets down an image of rural Belgium.
The actors in this series, every single one of them, give a stunning performance, and the characters they play are all very credible and genuine, which is not to say that they are all likable. In fact, I personally was constantly feeling vicarious shame when watching many of the persona's in this otherwise truly magnificent series. Special credits go out to Sien Eggers, whose character Ria is so incredibly real and recognizable that it actually gave me the creeps on more than one occasion. Also Jos, played by Dirk Van Dijck, probably the most likable character in the series, is nothing short of an A-grade quality acting performance.
For domestic viewers the series manages to come over as even more genuine, one of the main reasons for which is the language used, more specifically the dialect and, let's not forget to mention, the shamefully poor English utilized by the characters. While this adds to the authentic feel of the series, it at the very same time also poses a major problem towards international opportunities for this series. It quite simply is very hard, if not impossible, to catch the charm of the used language when an attempt would be made to translate it. However, unlike series such as 'Matroesjka's', which had a much more international character to it, I don't think that the team behind 'Eigen Kweek' had the ambition of going international with this television series.
It is a brilliant show, with top notch performances from some of the best actors we have in Belgium, and it does an excellent job at telling the story of how a family tries to cope with an unfortunately ever more common social problem, by opposing it with another ever more common social 'solution'. Whilst at the same time it also, at one time more subtly than the other, touches the viewers own personal beliefs, ideas and opinions. It doesn't do so too explicitly, but it sure holds up a mirror in front of many of the people that have seen and still will see this show.
I give it a 9 out of 10, for the simple fact that there is no such thing as perfection.