A Belgian film worthy of Hitchcock


"Duelles" (Mothers' Instinct), the 2018 Belgian film which won nine Magritte Awards, has caught the attention of Hollywood, which plans to produce an American version with Jessica Chastain and Anne Hathaway in the lead roles.

This feature film is an illustration of Belgium's somewhat forgotten motto, "L'union fait la force" (Unity makes Strength), since its director, Olivier Masset-Depasse, is from the Charleroi region, one of its lead actors, Veerle Baetens, is Flemish, playing opposite Anne Coesens, a native of Brussels, the story is inspired by a psychological thriller, "Derrière la haine" (Behind Hatred), by the Brussels novelist Barbara Abel, and the film was shot mainly in Cointe, a hill overlooking Liège.

This is the story of two very similar neighbouring families who live in two semi-detached villas in the leafy suburbs of Brussels. We are in the early 1960s, the husbands work outside the home, the women are housewives, and each couple has a son who attends the same school. The first scenes show two families with one child, living in perfect friendship, although a tragedy puts an end to this harmony, as one of the two boys dies by falling from his bedroom window. Following this, feelings of guilt and persecution combine and escalate, leading to paranoia and insanity, suicide and eventually murder. The quality of the acting, the care taken over the set, the beauty of the images and the subtlety of the plot make it a must-see film.