Belgica is the story of two brothers: charismatic and temperamental Frank—a husband, father, and an incurable womanizer—and his ambitious-but-green, one-eyed younger brother Jo, who owns a dive bar called Belgica. When Frank helps Belgica become the place to be for great music, beautiful people, and debauched fun, the brothers become business partners to expand the bar. Belgica quickly becomes bigger and better, and the brothers seem to have discovered the formula for success—until they learn that running a business on this scale is more complicated than they realized, and their relationship and personal lives suffer.
Writer/director Felix van Groeningen (who directed the Academy Award–nominated Broken Circle Breakdown) bathes the screen in golden hues and kinetic energy, creating an immersive experience of the excess and euphoria of being in the hottest nightclub in town. Set to the eclectic sounds of acclaimed Belgian band Soulwax, this precisely crafted, fast-paced tale shows the brothers’ intoxicating ascent to success—and the crash and burn that follows. Belgica is about living in the moment and realizing that moving forward is not only inevitable but necessary.
The films of Felix van Groeningen are characterized by a fascinating look at people in various settlements. He is considered one of the pioneers of the Belgian Nouvelle Vague, and his work has been awarded many times. The Misfortunates was selected in 2009 for the Quinzaine des Réalisateurs at Cannes, and his next film, The Broken Circle Breakdown, was an Academy Award nominee for Best Foreign Language Film. Belgica is his fifth feature film.