De Premier: Chronicle of a success foretold
by Aurore Engelen
- The undisputed champ of the Flemish box office, Erik Van Looy, released his new feature last week, which stars Koen de Bauw as a prime minister under a lot of pressure
De Premier [+see also:
film profile], the sixth feature by Erik Van Looy, who for the last ten years or more has been racking up blinding successes at the Flemish box office, went on general release in Belgium on Wednesday last week. Van Looy makes a strong impact with his new movie, as he portrays none other than the Belgian prime minister, who comes face to face with a mysterious crime syndicate that threatens to kill his family if he refuses to assassinate the US president. Faced with this moral dilemma (which, we should point out, is more than just political), Koen De Bauw obviously never gives up, and tries everything in his power to thwart the terrorists’ plans while simultaneously saving his family’s skin. The content may not get much more elaborate than the subject matter underpinning the movie, as outlined above, but Van Looy has a field day with the form, demonstrating this through his choice of settings, each more spectacular than the last. He also gives Brussels pride of place, setting a large chunk of the story in the majestic Cinquantenaire Museum. For almost two hours, the PM runs, sweats, hesitates and trembles, while the baddies try to outdo each other in their levels of cynicism, cruelty and sadism.
And, as expected, the film has enticed more than 130,000 viewers into theatres during its first week on release, as it was showing in a considerable number of theatres belonging to the Kinepolis group, which is distributing the film (albeit only in Flanders and Brussels). This performance is not quite as impressive as Van Looy’s Loft [+see also:
film profile] (2008), which holds Belgian cinema’s all-time record, with 165,000 admissions in its opening week and more than 1,150,000 by the end of its run, but it has done a lot better than The Alzheimer Case [+see also:
film profile], another of the filmmaker’s huge success stories. While the director’s previous film, The Loft, a remake of his own movie shot in the US, was slightly disappointing in terms of its style and results, we don’t mind betting that De Premier will reunite Van Looy with his public.
De Premier was produced by FBO, the company set up by Hilde De Laere, and was co-produced with Woestijnvis and Dutch outfit Millstreet Films. The film was backed by the Flanders Audiovisual Fund and Screen Flanders.
(Translated from French)