Brothers Frank and Jo run the music cafe Belgica. They’re doing a good job; before long their quiet pub is the hottest place on Gent’s night scene. But as their success grows, their close bond deteriorates. The film’s many scenes of drunken revelry lend this tragicomedy an intoxication: after the night’s excesses, energy and recklessness comes the inevitable hangover. When the depravity in their very own ‘house of corruption’ assumes epic proportions, the brothers’ lifestyle starts to take its toll. Jo, the more responsible and thoughtful of the pair, can only watch helplessly as Frank falls victim to a life of excess.
This story is based on real events. As a child van Groeningen lived above his father’s pub, De Charlatan, before it later became Gent’s most famous and notorious venue. It hosted many successful bands, including Das Pop and Vive la Fête. The soundtrack (Soulwax) is one of the film’s strengths. The exuberant parties and the hypnotic musical performances are enthralling spectacles. The acting is world class. At the last Sundance Film Festival the film won the award for Best Direction. The director Van Groeningen has already won fans in the Netherlands, first with De Helaasheid der Dingen, then with the Oscar-nominated drama The Broken Circle Breakdown.