In the 1890s, Father Adolf Daens goes to Aalst, a textile town where child labor is rife, pay and working conditions are horrible, the poor have no vote, and the Catholic church backs the ... See full summary »
Antje de Boeck
The once unconditional friendship between police officers Vincke and Verstuyft hits a very rough patch when they come up against a series of gruesome murders. Complicating matters even ... See full summary »
Koen De Bouw,
Werner De Smedt,
Five close friends, all of them married, share a loft to meet their mistresses. One day they find the body of a young woman in the loft. Since there are only five keys to the loft, the five men begin to suspect each other of murder.
Erik Van Looy
Koen De Bouw,
Inspector Nick Cafmeyer seems to have it all - looks, brains and a successful career. But a dark cloud hangs over his life: since the age of nine, he has been haunted by the unsolved ... See full summary »
Geert Van Rampelberg,
Johan van Assche
Tom Vansant is an emergency physician from Brussels who is desperately searching for his daughter who ran away from home and is now missing for eighteen months. He meets a girl of whom he ... See full summary »
Frank van Mechelen
Koen De Bouw,
In August 1996, bus drivers Marcel Van Loock and Wim Moreels are apprehended by the Moroccan Customs for drug trafficking. Inside their bus, hidden behind a false compartment, they have ... See full summary »
Vincke and Verstuyft are one of the best detective teams of the Antwerp police force. When they are confronted with the disappearance of a top official and the murder of two prostitutes, the trail leads to the almost retired assassin Angelo Ledda. Since Ledda starts showing symptoms of Alzheimer's, it's getting more and more difficult to complete his contracts. When he has to murder a 12-year old call-girl, he refuses and becomes a target himself. While Vincke and Verstuyft are chasing him and counting the corpses, Ledda is taking care of his employers.Written by
Some of the cars carry European-style license plates (full width, with a blue European mark on the left side - most clearly seen on the Mercedes cab that Ledda rides in). These were not yet introduced in 1995, the time the movie is set. See more »
A Stylish Roller Coaster Ride of a Police Thriller
"The Memory of a Killer (De Zaak Alzheimer)" is a sophisticated synthesis of several genres into a stylish thriller. There's the opening shots of a steam engine, saluting European film noir contrasting with the sharp sunlight of corrupt Marseille; the Georges Simenon-like police investigation contemporized with gritty Brit mystery crimes and the hunky bantering buddy cops where one is a wild rule-breaker and his boss is an Eliot Ness straight arrow; the samurai code of honor; the Western where the old gunslinger takes on one last conflict, like "The Unforgiven" and already adapted to "Man on the Train (L'Homme du Train)"; a revenge showdown, like the recent "Four Brothers"; the memory stream of consciousness tricks of "Memento" and the snappy editing of Hong Kong crime thrillers like "Infernal Affairs (Wu jian dao)." And we even get a "The Sopranos"-like psychological profile of a hit man.
While director Erik Van Looy smoothly integrates all these elements together in adapting what must have been a complex novel, this is terrific, intelligent popular entertainment and only its subtitles keep it in limited release in the U.S. in art houses. Too bad a Hollywood adaptation is inevitable.
The film has an exciting dual structure of following the cops and the criminal as they get intertwined and chase each other, as each sorts out vengeance and some justice (with surprising collateral damage) ever higher up the responsibility ladder so that our sympathies, and theirs, are compromised. While we atypically don't see anything of the cops' personal lives (except with an amusing visual twist that it's the guy in the shower), we do get thrust into their quite believable bureaucratic and legal wranglings, which, while a bit confusing for an American audience, can be inferred to be similar to the jurisdictional conflicts between local police departments and the FBI that we've seen in plenty of movies and TV shows. The English subtitles seem pretty good at communicating the localisms, though some of the cultural conflict in Belgium between French and Flemish speakers is lost, particularly when it is significant which language is being spoken.
The twist that is given away in the original title of the film, translated as "The Alzheimer Affair," is that the highly intelligent and perceptive criminal, the charismatic Jan Decleir, realizes he is losing his memory, and sees his near future clearly in his hospitalized brother. We get inside his head as he is trying to out race not only the cops, his traitorous client and duplicitous boss, but himself, so that his taunt of "too slow" takes on a double meaning. His professionalism takes over even when the flashy cinematography indicates he doesn't quite remember what he's done.
While the body count is high, the violence is one on one and is not gratuitous. Each death ratchets up the tensions and complications as what at first seems street level crime has cynical political implications. Much of the film takes place in the dark, like "Collateral," and while there's a fair amount of sudden coming up from behind scares, that's usually the start of a suspenseful scene where cat and mouse decisions ricochet off in surprising ways.
The music very effectively supports the action, particularly when the story continues in an unexpected direction, though the choice of a Starsailor song over the credits didn't seem to fit.
It's a bit perplexing that "The Beat That My Heart Skipped (De Battre mon coeur s'est arrete)" is getting wider distribution (probably because it's a remake of an American film and has a young hunk at the center), when this is the better European crime thriller of the summer.
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