Archive of films The Misfortunates / De helaasheid der dingen

Belgium / Netherlands
2009, 108 min

Section: Focus on Belgian Film
Year: 2010

In the village of Reetverdegem a teenage boy lives through an extremely turbulent and chaotic youth, dominated by the alcohol-fuelled antics and sexual escapades of his father and uncles. Years later we see adult Gunther, now a writer, looking back on this eventful period.


The Misfortunates, based on the bestselling novel by Dimitri Verhulst, tells the story of young Gunther Strobbe whose extremely turbulent youth is spent in the village of Reetverdegem in the company of his alcohol-saturated father and uncles. Years later, the adult Gunther, who now writes for a living, looks back over this early period. Not with nostalgia, but with something more akin to bitterness and sadness, since young Gunther gradually comes to the realisation that he doesn’t want simply to follow in the footsteps of the older and, frankly, lost generation. But this choice will be a painful one and, without the affections of the tribe, the big, wide world can be lonely and cold. Benefitting from naturalistic performances and from an energetic narrative style driven by dynamic camera work, director Felix van Groeningen succeeds remarkably well in capturing that paradoxical balance between wanton euphoria and quiet despair, vulgarity and tenderness.

About the director

Felix van Groeningen (b. 1977, Ghent) studied at the KASK film school in Ghent. His acclaimed graduation film 50cc was co-produced with the Victoria theatre. Working subsequently in both film and theatre, van Groeningen also shot several music videos. In 2004 he made his impressive debut with the raw but romantic love story Steve + Sky. In 2007 he followed this up with With Friends Like These (Dagen zonder lief), about a group of friends in their twenties who realise gradually that they are growing apart. His third film, The Misfortunates, which world premiered in 2009 during the Quinzaine des réalisateurs at Cannes, marked his first direction of a book adaptation. It is worth noting that van Groeningen made his three features with the same producer (Dirk Impens), the same cameraman (Ruben Impens) and the same editor (Nico Leunen).


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About the film

Color, 35 mm

Section: Focus on Belgian Film
Director: Felix van Groeningen
Screenplay: Christophe Dirickx, Felix van Groeningen
Dir. of Photography: Ruben Impens
Music: Jef Neve
Editor: Nico Leunen
Producer: Dirk Impens
Production: Menuet
Cast: Koen De Graeve, Wouter Hendrickx, Kenneth Vanbaeden, Valentijn Dhaenens, Johan Heldenbergh, Bert Haelvoet, Gilda De Bal
Contact: Flanders Image, MK2


Christian De Schutter

Film Institution Rep., PR & Marketing


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