• Film

The Sexual Life of the Belgians 1950–1978


Time Out says

Belgian writer/director Jan Bucquoy can hardly be accused of vanity in his choice for the central role in this autobiographical portrait of the artist as a young slob. Hair by Mazola, complexion by Blue Circle, Compère only puts away one bag of chips and mayo during the course of the film, but looks as though he subsists on nothing else. The first thing we see in his mouth, however, is his mother's breast; and it's her money-saving motto ('Life is so expensive') that dominates the first half of the film and, like her equally stingy affection for her son, rings throughout his subsequent progress. From awkward, greasy small-town boy to awkward, greasy big-city near-man: such is the making of this would-be revolutionary, aspirant novelist and ever-hopeful lover, the anti-Gump with whom we spend the rest of the picture. Episodic and conversational, this is no lurid exposé of salacious goings-on in the realm of beer and mussels; instead, it's a shambling, rather disarming survey of the amorous mishaps and potentially numbing provincialism that make post-'68 model Jan ready to change the world, and downright desperate to get his leg over in the interim. Not that the point is pushed home too hard in a film that ambles along through a welter of endearing emphemera (from tacky caravan parks and errant homing pigeons, to jibes at Godard's 'political' period and a striking tribute to Johnny Guitar), plays sleight-of-hand with fantasy and reality, and half by accident, half by design, ends up matching its abundant slow-burn humour with an unexpected degree of genuine poignancy.

Release Details

  • Duration:80 mins

Cast and crew

  • Director:Jan Bucquoy
  • Screenwriter:Jan Bucquoy, Valérie Weyer
  • Cast:
    • Jean-Henri Compère
    • Sophie Schneider
    • Noé Franq
    • Isabelle Legros
    • Pascale Binneri
    • Michele Shor
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