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A drama that is much closer to reality than some of you might want to believe
I guess everybody who has been a college student in Belgium (I don't know how it works in other countries), knows that he isn't seen as 'full' by the older students until he has been 'baptized' by one of the student clubs. And no, that has absolutely nothing to do with religion, it is a tradition of initiation rites with only one intention and that is to break a new student's spirit completely by humiliating and degrading him or her. That is done by all the students who have been baptized before and is in fact only an excuse to drink incredible amounts of beer while doing to others what has been done to themselves while they were baptized. In case you still don't know what that exactly means, I suggest you watch this "Ad Fundum". It gives a good idea of what it all looks like.
The movie tells the story of a group of students who go to college for the first year. Immediately they are asked by the student club to tell who wants to be a 'real' student and who doesn't. Those who don't want to be part of all those filthy games can leave, but most of them stay, probably also out of curiosity. One of them is Sammy Raes, a 'nerd' who didn't go to college just to party, but also to get his diploma. He becomes a very easy target for the leader of the student club. And at first everything goes well. They drink a lot of beer, do some games,... the usual stuff. But than the seemingly innocent little games go a little bit too far and Sammy gets killed. Since the victim was drunk and none of the other students was capable of giving a truthful testimony, the leaders are free to go. The disappointment by Sammy's friends is huge, but they have a plan. They will take revenge in an appropriate way...
I already hear some of you think that all this must be wrong or exaggerated. No-one can be that stupid, certainly not the people who will once form the elite of the country. Well, I'm afraid they are, or better they were. The last couple of years, most schools have made up some very strict rules and regulations to make sure that accidents will no longer happen, but as always those regulations only came after some incidents already had happened. Take for instance the college where I studied. A few years before I started there, someone died because they had put her in a barrel and poured out beer and all kinds of nasty stuff over her head. That didn't kill her of course, but the barrel first had been used to transport sulfuric acid and wasn't cleaned properly. The result: the little bit of acid that was left, reacted with the rest and she was so heavily burnt that she died later on in hospital. Since than, the student club asks for one minute of silence before the start of every Cantus (a drinking party during which the presidium (the leaders of the club) tell you when and how much to drink. In the meantime you sing typical student songs) in order to commemorate her. 'Lucky' girl, no?
So, the story is more believable than you might think at first. But that's not the only good thing about this movie. It was directed by Erik Van Looy, the man who also made the, in my opinion, excellent movie "De Zaak Alzheimer". I truly believe he is one of the best directors that we have and this movie only proves that. It isn't over-the-top dramatic, it all feels very realistic. That's of course also thanks to the performances of the talented cast that he worked with. I'm pretty sure that most people outside Belgium don't know any of them, but over here the names Jaak Van Assche, Tom Van Landuyt, Axel Daeseleire, Wim Opbrouck, Herbert Flack, Gene Bervoets... will certainly ring a bell.
Overall, this movie certainly is worth a watch, thanks to the fine, realistic story and the good acting. It may not be a masterpiece, but in my opinion it certainly deserves a rating between 7/10 and 7.5/10.
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