The Misfortunates

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The Misfortunates
The Misfortunates Poster.jpg
Directed by Felix Van Groeningen
Screenplay byFelix Van Groeningen
Christophe Dirickx
Based onDe Helaasheid der Dingen
by Dimitri Verhulst
Produced byDirk Impens
Jeroen Beker
Frans van Gestel
StarringKenneth Vanbaeden
Valentijn Dhaenens
Koen De Graeve
Wouter Hendrickx
Johan Heldenbergh
Bert Haelvoet
Cinematography Ruben Impens
Edited byNico Leunen
Music byJef Neve
Distributed byMenuet
Release date
  • 16 May 2009 (2009-05-16)
Running time
108 minutes

The Misfortunates (Dutch : De Helaasheid der Dingen) is a 2009 Belgian comedy-drama film directed by Felix Van Groeningen. It is adapted from the 2006 semi-autobiographical novel of the same name by Belgian writer Dimitri Verhulst. [1] The film stars Kenneth Vanbaeden, Valentijn Dhaenens, Koen De Graeve, Wouter Hendrickx, Johan Heldenbergh, Bert Haelvoet, and Gilda De Bal. [2]



In the 1980s, Gunther Strobbe (Kenneth Vanbaeden) is a thirteen-year-old boy living with his father, Celle (Koen De Graeve), his three uncles Petrol, Breeze, Koen, (Wouter Hendrickx, Johan Heldenbergh, and Bert Haelvoet respectively) and his mother Meetje (Gilda De Bal). Celle works part-time as a postman, while his brothers are boozing layabouts who live off their mother's pension. The men of this family spend their days drinking beer and eating sausage, breaking things, playing pranks on people, and chasing women. In the present day, Gunther has made a career as a writer when his girlfriend suddenly falls pregnant with a son—apprehensive of his new responsibilities, Gunther seeks out his father and his uncles for some advice on fatherhood.


Critical reception

The chief film critic of The New York Times , Manohla Dargis, wrote: "The revelation of the adult Gunther’s thinking and being — he’s callous, near brutal to his girlfriend — is extremely well managed and shows just how subtle this loud, seemingly rough tale really is." [1] Variety described the film as starting out as an "extremely lowbrow comedy" but later "morphing into a bittersweet meditation on whether familial love and pride are enough to sustain a proper upbringing." [3] LA Weekly compared the film to mixing "the visual exuberance of Trainspotting with the familial pathos of Angela’s Ashes ". [4]


The film won the Prix Art et Essai at Cannes Film Festival in the Director's Fortnight section. [5] The film was the official Belgian entry for the 82nd Academy Awards in 2010 in the category of Best Foreign Language Film. [6]

See also

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  1. 1 2 Dargis, Manohla (8 April 2010). "A Family Lives to Drink, and, Yes, Drinks to Live". The New York Times . Retrieved 19 June 2018.
  2. "The Misfortunates | Menuet & IDTV Film presents: The Misfortunates, a film by Felix van Groeningen". Archived from the original on 8 March 2012. Retrieved 19 June 2018.
  3. Boyd Van Hoeij (17 May 2009). "The Misfortunates". Variety . Retrieved 20 January 2010.
  4. Chuck Wilson (9 December 2009). "The Misfortunates". LA Weekly . Retrieved 20 January 2010.
  5. ""Misfortunates" win in Cannes". Vlaamse Radio- en Televisieomroep. 23 May 2009. Retrieved 20 January 2010.
  6. Leffler, Rebecca (21 September 2009). "Belgium backs 'Misfortunates' for Oscar". The Hollywood Reporter . Associated Press . Retrieved 19 June 2018.