Screened as part of NZIFF 2010

The Misfortunates 2009

De helaasheid der dingen

Directed by Felix van Groeningen

A bawdy, boisterous, but heartfelt comedy about the perils of growing up in a proudly dysfunctional Belgian family. “Full of hilarity, horror and heartbreak.” — Time Out NY

Belgium / The Netherlands In Dutch with English subtitles
108 minutes CinemaScope


Dirk Impens


Christophe Dirickx
Felix van Groeningen. Based on the novel by Dimitri Verhulst


Ruben Impens


Nico Leunen

Production designer

Kurt Rigolle

Costume designer

Ann Lauwerys


Jan Deca
Michel Schöpping


Jef Neve


Kenneth Vanbaeden (little Gunther Strobbe, 13 years)
Valentijn Dhaenens (Gunther Strobbe)
Koen De Graeve (Marcel ‘Celle’ Strobbe)
Wouter Hendrickx (Lowie ‘Petrol’ Strobbe)
Johan Heldenbergh (Pieter ‘Breejen’ Strobbe)
Bert Haelvoet (Koen Strobbe)
Gilda De Bal (Granny)
Natali Broods (Aunt Rosie)
Pauline Grossen (Cousin Sylvie)


Cannes (Directors’ Fortnight), Toronto, Pusan 2009


A bawdy, boisterous, but heartfelt comedy about growing up in a proudly dysfunctional family.

“Your clothes will practically reek of stale cigarette smoke, spilled beer and sausages after spending time with the Strobbes, a tight-knit Belgian clan of dimwits who routinely break furniture while slurring their way through filthy drinking songs. Coming of age in the late 80s, mulleted 13-year-old Gunther Strobbe is following a path of rabble-rousing courtesy of his father and three uncles. All of his mentors are alcoholic womanizers living under their suffering mother’s roof – as real jobs might get in the way of their nude cycling contests, drag parties and Guinness Book-qualifying ale pounding. Adapted from Dimitri Verhulst’s semi-autobiographical novel with a flair that recalls the squalor-and-dazzle visuals of Trainspotting, Felix van Groeningen’s highly entertaining tale is full of hilarity, horror and heartbreak.” — Aaron Hillis, Time Out NY