Regulars will know that I am not a lover of art house cinema. (I have been meaning to slag off the execrable Volver here since I
saw endured it a few weeks back.) But yesterday evening I watched a grim, documentary-style Belgian film and enjoyed it. Hilariously, the plot, such as it is, centres almost entirely on waffles and beer. If you’ve seen Rosetta you’ll know that I am not exaggerating for comic effect. It’s almost as if the Pythons had been asked to write a parody of worthy Belgian cinema—though they might have been tempted to give every member of the cast a comedy Poirot ‘tache.
There’s not much to it, but it’s beautifully performed, affecting, and unpretentious. (If you watch the additional material on the DVD you’ll discover that the brothers who directed the movie and won the Palme D’Or at Cannes for it are pretentious.) The lead
actress female actor also picked up the acting award and she deserved it for coping with the Dardennes’ claustrophobically tight framing of her every move. It takes talent to express raw emotion unselfconsciously while a socialist realist with Art Garfunkel hair holds a cine lens inches from your face.
Yes, I laughed at things that weren’t meant to be funny, but it’s a Belgian film full of waffles. The cast always seemed to be stuffing their faces with waffles. There’s waffle fraud. There’s even an illicit waffle iron. By the end of it, not only had I learned for the first time the French for “waffle”, but I really rather fancied eating some waffles, with syrup perhaps, and a bottle of Belgian beer—regular, not extra-strength. I had chocolate instead.