Jean is the unemployed husband of Chantel and father to 17-year-old Marva who has dreams of becoming a singer. Out of belief in his daughter's abilities, and desperation, Jean kidnaps a pop singer in the hope of giving his daughter a leg up in the business.

3.5
Life of a sweet-voiced problem child.

Jean Vereecken works in a bottle factory in a Belgian town and he and his wife are inordinately proud of their 17-year-old daughter, Marva, who they reckon has a future as a pop singer – they're about her only fans, however. When the factory closes down and Jean is thrown out of work, things get a bit desperate until a chance encounter with pop singer Debbie, leads to a hair-brained scheme involving Jean and his mate Willy, to get Marva a singing spot on national TV.

Dominique Deruddere's modest but quite sweet comedy is very much in the Full Monty tradition – a film about unemployed battlers who seize a bizarre chance for fame and fortune. Thematically, Everbody Famous has some similarities to Shirley Barrett's very underrated Walk The Talk, which was a much better movie. The mood is lighter than that of Deruddere's earlier films, which include the sexually controversial Crazy Love, made in 1987 and the star of that film, Josse De Pauw, is good fun as the appallingly dressed Dad whose faith in his daughter's singing ability is touchingly funny. Eva van der Gucht is very likeable as his sweet-voiced daughter.

Comments from Margaret Pomeranz: Dominique Deruddere has a talent for putting rather unlikeable characters on screen and making us care about them. And to top that, he places his characters in an often appallingly dreary environment. That’s exactly what he does in Everybody Famous. Marva – a wonderful performance by Eva Van Der Gucht – is a problem child without charm or grace. But we totally understand her. Her father – Josse De Pauw who remains unforgettable because of his role in the early Deruddere film Crazy Love – is an obsessive, but he’s a totally understandable obsessive: he has a dream for Marva because he failed his dream for himself.

There’s a deep compassion at work here. The texture of Deruddere’s films is like no-one else’s and he evokes feelings that are a mix of despair and compelling interest. His films are not amazingly cinematic, you can see that they’ve been made on a Belgian budget, but he makes things work within the limits of his frame.

Everybody Famous
is not a great film, but it covers interesting terrain in such a refreshing way that you can’t help but be caught up by what happens to his characters. Will Marva ever smile? That’s the question.

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1 hour 37 min

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