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Foreign Comedy - Belgium- Aaltra


Gustave de Kervern, Benoit Delepine
Written and directed by Gustave de Kervern and Benoit Delepine
Black and white
French with English subtitles
Belgium 2004
Film Movement 2006
90 minutes

Wheelchair road movie. This is enough to interest anyone in Aaltra probably the only wheelchair comedy around, foreign film DVD or not. This black comedy from Belgium is a unique movie. Aaltra, available from Film Movement, is interesting and darkly funny. This is the kind of film you tell eagerly your friends about and want to share but not the kind of movie you really go back to.

Two constantly bickering neighbors end up in wheelchairs after a fight and a tractor accident. Not being the kind of guy to ... take things sitting down ... the farm hand decides to go to Finland to lodge his grievance against Aaltra, the company that made the tractor with the shoddy part that caused the accident. His neighbor decides to go along for the ride as he too has a grievance. This black comedy is a definite comic case of misery loves company.

Aaltra becomes a wheelchair buddy road movie with the two paraplegics encountering many obstacles on their way to Finland. These two men are not your usual handicapped person and bring a new dimension to affirmative action. They are also most definitely not above stealing or abusing anyone's good will and generosity.

It is amazing the kind of physical comedy writers and directors Benoit Delepine and Gustave de Kevern came up with and were able to do in wheelchairs. The use of black and white film was perhaps not a brilliant choice but it does go with the very spare dialogue in this darkly funny foreign film DVD from Belgium. I am less convinced about the four or five black screen cuts in the absurd and comically dark ending. A more perspicacious friend noticed how visually linear the movie was as a counterbalance to the wheels of the chairs.

If you have a somewhat twisted mind and know someone in a wheelchair who faces life with a dark comic outlook Aaltra would definitely be a DVD worth giving so you can ... sit ... and watch it together. If you do not know someone in a wheelchair this comedy from Belgium is certainly worth checking out.

Like all other Film Movement DVDs Aaltra comes with a bonus short. This time it is the autobiographical Something Other Than Other by American directors Jerry A. Henry and Andrea J. Chia. This is a voiced over home movies and other stuff story about a biracial couple having their first child. Visually it really sucks and the commentary amazingly banal.

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