A wonderful down-to-earth cast does absurd things which ring entirely true. The plot actually contains surprises--no mean feat in a world of oft-told, over-told tales. Dominique Deruddere proves as writer and director that in a climate of copycats, it's the unique that pays off. As one of his characters points out, talent is the one thing that cannot be faked, although getting people to recognize talent amid the plethora of marketing hype that surrounds the arts is a rare occurrence.
The story concerns a laid-off factory worker who is convinced of his daughter's singing talent. Along with the rest of the movie's characters, the audience is given time to come to recognize the charm and skill of the girl who at first seems just a hopeless, heavy frump. Along the way, the plot involves--to name just a few of the themes--kidnapping, media madness, true love and a Michael Jackson mask. It also, of course, features a considerable amount of singing.
Deruddere paints in all the warts on his characters, but that accentuates rather than diminishes their appeal. There is goodness of heart at the core of this film, even as it explores cynicism and crassness. At moments one can even feel sympathy for the greedy music mogul! It is the collective consciousness and taste that Deruddere decries, never the individual. Toward that he is always humane.
Josse De Pauw the devoted dad driven to fanaticism and crime pulls off playing a man acting foolishly without ever being silly about it. Gert Portael adds perfect balance as his doubting wife. Above all, Eva Van Der Gucht as their daughter, Marva, whose low self-esteem and general teenage malaise impedes her ability to prove her worth, is utterly up to all the demands of the role, including ultimately singing with verve and feeling. And Viktor Low is gleefully good as the record producer out to out manipulate the manipulative. Starring Josse De Pauw, Eva Van Der Gucht, Werner De Smedt, Thekla Reuten and Viktor Low. Directed and written by Dominique Deruddere. Produced by Dominique Deruddere and Loret Meus. A Miramax release. Comedy. Dutch-, Flemish- and French-language; subtitled. Rated R for some sexuality and nudity. Running time: 99 min