27 March 2014 | paul-allaer
Witse moves to the big screen, and strikes out both critically and commercially
"Witse" is a popular TV crime series in Flanders, Belgium, not unlike, say, the "der Alte" TV series in Germany. Last year it was announced that "Witse" would move to the big screen. The production team mentioned that the movie version would allow the story to explore the 'darker' side of Witse. I was looking forward to it.
"W." (a/k/a "Witse de Film" or "Witse the Movie"; 2014 release from Belgium; 90 min.) finds our hero now retired from the police force. As the movie opens, we see the long-forgotten sister of Witse attempting to make contact with him. Apparently her 20 yr. old daughter has disappeared and is eventually found brutally murdered. Witse "volunteers" his services to the cops to help out his sister, and off we go to track what eventually becomes a serial murder case. To tell you more would spoil your viewing experience.
Couple of comments: first, what's with the movie's official title? Rather than officially calling the movie "Witse the Movie" or something along those lines, it shows instead in the credits as "W.", making me immediately think of George W. Bush. Second, this movie sure does explore the 'darker' side of Witse as the plot involves gruesome scenes and pictures of the female victims, in fact I was surprised how dark this movie truly is. Third, the plot does cleverly build in references to the fact that this year marks the 100 anniversary of WWI, a big deal in Belgium (President Obama visited a cemetery of perished WWI American soldiers during his recent trip to Belgium). Last but not least, Hubert Damen dutifully reprises his TV role of Witse for the big screen.
The movie opened several weeks ago in Belgium, to lukewarm reviews at best. I nevertheless went to see it last weekend during a family visit in Belgium. The screening I saw this at was poorly attended, and by coincidence there was an article in a Belgian newspaper this week speculating as to why the movie has flopped so badly, both critically and commercially. It seems a rare misstep in what has been an incredible streak of wonderful and engaging Flemish movies recently. Check out "W." if you have a NEED to see Flemish movies. Otherwise I'd pass.