King of the Belgians
Director: Peter Brosens, Jessica Woodworth
Writer: Peter Brosens, Jessica Woodworth
Cast: Peter Van den Begin, Lucie Debay, Titus De Voogdt, Bruno Georis, Goran Radakovic, Pieter van der Houwen
Seen on: 3.9.2016
King Nicolas III of Belgium (Peter Van den Begin) is on state visit in Turkey, together with his chief of protocol Ludovic Moreau (Bruno Georis), valet Carlos De Vos (Titus De Voogdt) press liaison Louise Vancraeyenest (Lucie Debay) and documentary filmmaker Duncan Lloyd (Pieter van der Houwen). The latter is supposed to chronicle the life and responsibilities of a King. But their visit turns sour when news reaches them that Wallonia seceded from Belgium. Nicolas knows he has to return home quickly, but due to cosmic storms and international protocol, he can neither communicate with home, nor leave officially. So instead he and his small band of faithfuls decide to travel home through the Balkans, incognito.
I liked the idea behind King of the Belgians and it starts off rather funny, but it never really gathered enough momentum to win me over entirely.
King of the Belgians has quite a few good qualities. Apart from the interesting basic idea and the perfectly chosen cast, it’s also film that’s full of beautiful, perfectly shot images. And as I said, it starts off quite well, with a lot of drive and some excellent moments. There is one particular scene I loved where Nicolas crashes their car by swerving to avoid a turtle, which gets attributed to his royal reflexes.
Unfortunately, after a while the concept starts to wear a little thin, especially when it becomes a riff on the joys of a “simple life” vs. the rigorous life of a royal. Fortunately, that part is kept short, but it still didn’t sit well with me.
Though, it didn’t bother me as much as the sudden focus the film turns on Louise in the second half. Duncan apparently takes a shine to her and wants to know more about her private life, although Louise doesn’t want to share – especially not on camera (and since this entire thing is a mockumentary, she would have to do so on camera). But he keeps hounding her, prying, and finally she shares something, which gets played as an emotional revelation and a good thing for Louise, but just felt strange and weird to me, especially since Louise is the only woman in a group of men and the only one where the film feels the need to dig in that much – probably because she keeps her distance and focuses on the professional side and we can’t have that in a woman, can we?
In any case my bewilderment at Louise’ treatment as well as a rather lengthy second half kept me from enjoying the film as much as I probably could have and ultimately left me unsatisfied.