What would you do if you won an endless bag of money? Pierre (Wim Willaert) and his buddy Jean (“d’n rosten”, Thomas Ryckewaert) in “Wien for Life” know. For years they have dreamed of exchanging the desolate West Flemish countryside for Soerabaya in Indonesia, where they watch the sunset with a beautiful lady on one hand and a cocktail on the other. And then, in the kiosk of a desolate petrol station on the Flemish-French border, the impossible happens: Pierre and Jean actually have success with their “Win for Life” scratch card. While they already count themselves rich, policeman Mikey “Lee” Lietaert (Jan Hammenecker) and Pierre’s girlfriend Angelique (Mieke Dobbels) throw a spanner in the works. Pierre and Jean have to change their plans over and over again, in order to get hold of some of the money at all. But their mutual friendship is jeopardized by greed, lies and delusions of grandeur. And what role does the mysterious wrong-way driver play who still does not notice that he is driving on the wrong side of the road…?
“Wien for Life” (2014) is the first film jointly filmed by Mark Bouwmeester born in the Netherlands and Nyk Dekeyser from Flanders, operating under the name Alidor Dolfing. The pair have copied the trick with Ethan and Joel Coen, because their film is somewhat reminiscent of the style and storyline of the work of the acclaimed American brothers, complete with jet-black humor, absurd characters, desolate locations and bizarre twists. Where the Coen Brothers play in, for example, “Fargo” (1996) with the singing accent that belongs to the inhabitants of Minnesota, Bouwmeester and Dekeyser do this with the sometimes incomprehensible (and therefore hilarious) West Flemish. “Wien for Life” is as tragic as it is comical. And although you can already feel the climax coming, the road to it is a great trip full of crazy confrontations. The self-obsessed and money-obsessed characters drag themselves and each other into ruin.
“Wien for Life” is an absurdist tragicomedy about greed and self-obsession, which lasts just long enough at 25 minutes. Thanks to strong playing, especially by Willaert and Ryckewaert, you as a viewer are drawn into the crazy story without any effort. It is clear where Bouwmeester and Dekeyser got their bearings, but better copied than badly invented.