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Aaltra

Comedy    |    2004    |    89 min    |   
     11 votes
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Plot

"Shot in beautiful black and white CinemaScope, Aaltra is deliciously mordant black comedy and the ultimate wheelchair road movie.

Ben and Gus are neighbours in a small Belgian village, one an uptight commuter, the other a slovenly small farmer. They loathe each other, and their antagonism leads to a fight, culminating in an accident with a tractor which leaves them both paralysed from the waist down. Rejecting the possibility of suicide or self pity, they take a more vengeful route, heading off across Belgium in their wheelchairs with the intention of claiming compensation from the Finnish manufacturer of the tractor which injured them. Their changing relationship during the journey may be standard road movie stuff, but the pair's willingness to exploit and impose upon everyone they meet is bracingly refreshing and wickedly funny. Doubling up in front and behind the camera, Delepine and Kervern are masters of comic underplaying, and their supporting cast features cameos from some well known Belgians and a particularly famous Finn." (London Film Festival)

In the press (4)
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TimeOut
”One of those lovely, laconic, slightly surreal black comedies.”
Variety
”This film has all the makings of a Euro cult success, with crossover chances high. "Aaltra" may not have much to say, but it's a stylish diversion with genuine laughs and a refreshingly unholy take on the handicapped. After so many politically correct heart-wringers, it's a liberating experience to watch two people in wheelchairs so thoroughly undemanding of pity. Delepine and Kervern use their completely different appearancesto marvelous effect, revealing a physical comic's understanding of comedy. Masters of underplaying, they mine laughs in the minimal gesture or look, without resorting to slapstick.”
Screen
”Tell people that a festival’s hot ticket is a black-and-white Belgian road comedy, and you’re liable to be greeted with scepticism, especially when the protagonists are two middle-aged men in wheelchairs. Nevertheless, Aaltra is this year’s surprise delight at Rotterdam: a bad-mannered, defiantly oddball farce, high on economical storytelling and visual invention in a Jacques Tati vein.”
The Independent
”The most entertaining? What if I told you it was a Belgian road comedy with wheelchairs? In black and white? No, seriously. Aaltra, directed by and starring Benoît Delépine and Gustave Kervern, is about two grumpy middle-aged men who lose the use of their legs in a bizarre agricultural accident then head to Helsinki to protest. This sublimely nutty balck farce features a plethora of Tati-esque sight gags and a jaw-dropping karaoke performance by a Finnish biker!”
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