In this sharp satire, famed Flemish provocateur and first-time director Jan Bucquoy pokes fun at Belgian provincialism by ruthlessly re-telling the autobiographical story of a clueless young bumpkin who tries to keep up with times but always manages to be a few frustrating steps behind -- something reflected by the decidedly dark and unglamorous settings in which he appears.
His anti-climactic life unfolds episodically via flashback and is told with a blend of fantasy and reality. The first segments begin in the repressive '50s when Jan grew up with a penurious, emotionally distant mother and a self-absorbed father. During the tumultuous '60s, Jan goes to Brussels to launch a brilliant writing career.
Awed by the city's seemingly endless sophistication with its political activists and sexual freedom, the naïve Jan feels at last he has found his proper venue. But while he freely samples the fruits of the decade, he somehow remains a passive outsider; neither free enough to be a great lover, nor passionate enough to be a convincing political activist.
The '70s dawn and with nothing meaningful left to do, Jan embraces the mundane realities of bourgeoise life. While the story's satire may not translate well outside the Gallic world, it was an enormous hit in Belgium in 1994.