A few questions

I saw this film 2 days ago, only one other person in the Cinema. Apparently he was planning to see this film at a gay film festival, but it was fully booked. There were a few points that neither of us understood

1) What is with Pim reciting the alphabet? He does it several times during the film without any obvious reason.

2) The scene on the beach where Pim runs into the sea just after he burns the momentos of his first 2 lovers, was he trying to drown himself?

3) The photo of Gino and his sister's father. It looked like a younger Etienne, but the other guy I was with did not realise that and was not sure.

The film in itself is quite a sweet love story, an interesting view of a young gay boy falling for other boys who are either straight or closet cases who are dating girls or getting married to them.


1) I don't get the alphabet thing either, except that it seems to be a sort of ritual that means something important to Pim. The first time he does it in the movie is when he's in his mother's room. He closes his eyes, takes 15 steps, saying the first 15 letters of the alphabet, hops 90° to his left, says "open eyes," and goes into his beauty queen routine, putting on his mother's "Miss ..." sash, tiara, and makeup. It's almost as if reciting the alphabet somehow takes him into an alternative universe or identity - a sort of small-scale rite of passage.

2) I definitely don't think he was trying to drown himself. He recited the alphabet again (the whole alphabet this time) as he ran down the beach to the water, then said "the sea," and then rolled around in the very shallow water right at the edge. That whole scene suggests an almost solemn rite of some kind: burning the mementos that have been so important to him all his life (and not just of the two boys he loved but of his own beauty-queen alter-ego too), then stripping off all his clothes, then running to the sea as he recites the alphabet (which has some magical property for him), then undergoing something very like a baptism in the sea. It strongly suggests that he is starting his life over, possibly a life based less in fantasy and more in a reality in which he is an active, adult participant and not a child dreamer (which Sabrina calls him more than once). He does demonstrate a different, more mature personality after that, when Gino returns (also through water, although it's heavy rain, and to some extent repentant for his past treatment of Pim) and Pim invites him to stay.

3) I hadn't noticed the resemblance between Étienne and Gino and Sabrina's father (who was named Stefano, according to the mother), but I just rewatched it and there definitely is a strong resemblance. They also have the same name (Étienne=Stefano=Stephen), and the kids' mother said Yvette (Pim's mother) had stolen him away from her. But this raises other questions, since Gino was apprenticed to Étienne with no hint that he was the boy's father, and the mother had told Sabrina she didn't know if her father was still alive. It's an awkward connection, but it's practically unavoidable.

There's something else Pim does repeatedly that I don't understand. At least three times he goes to a window, opens the curtains, and stands with his back to the camera looking out, silhouetted against a hazy bright light that shows practically nothing of what's outside the window. A couple of those times he has his arms extended as if in greeting or welcome, ready to embrace whatever he imagines is out there in the light. It seems to have significance, but I have no idea yet what it is.

There's much more to this movie than there seems to be at first - it's not just another coming-out/coming-of-age story. Jelle Florizoone gives am amazing performance as Pim, carrying the whole movie on his 15-year-old shoulders. I love that character, I love his performance, and I love this movie.


The window thing immediately struck me as a 'Royal' pose, think balcony scene, think Evita, he is wearing a tiara after all . . .Belgium has a Monarchy remember.


1) I wondered too. But on the other hand: Have you never counted doing things? Pim does the same, but simply uses the alphabet.

2) No, according to Bavo Defurne for Pim its a way of expressing his feelings. Feelings he can't express on any other way than through the clouds and the waves of the sea.

3) Don't think so. Etiënne is as Flemmish as can be. Stefano must be an Italian. His name and and those of Gino and Sabrina are more Italian than Flemmish.

By the way: Jelle Florizoone was only 14 when they shot the movie.


Just going to comment on the last one:

3) The version of the film I have shows a caption under the picture of Gino and Sabrina's father's picture and it says "Pim's Father". So I guess that answers that question. Even if it didn't say that, the reactions they all had definitely suggested it.

BTW, I LOVED the movie and it is one of my favorite love stories :) Gay or straight.


I have seen this version with these english subtitles too. The subtitles are amateur made and have other faulty translations. The are based on the french subtitles from the recently released DVD, but "Pim's Father" was added by the amateur translator.

The mother says 'jullie vader' ('your father') 'jullie' is the plural form. So she is referring to Gino and Sabrina. There is no other indication that the man on the picture is also Pim's father. That would make Pim and Gino halfbrothers...


When I saw the movie the subtitle caption said "Pim's Father" when the picture the mother showed her daughter and Gino was revealed. That would make Gino and Pim half-brothers and their relationship incestuous. This reasoning is backed up by the fact that the mother let Pim stay at her house all the time, even when Gino left to be with that girl in Dunkirk. On the other hand, I think it could have just been a mistranslation or typo and should have said Gino's father, but then why the big secret?


You are absolutely right! They are half-brothers and �sister.

I did some internet research and noticed that in some descriptions of the book the film is based on (�Nooit gaat dit over� (�Never shall this pass�) by Andr� Sollie) is talk about 'a well kept secret'. I wondered what the secret was. Surely is wasn't the love between Pim and Gino.

Off I went to the bookshop. They had 2 copies left in the adult youth section.

Quickly I found the hospital scene. When the photo is passed around Sabrina suddenly notices the resemblance between the photo and the two boys. One fair and one dark, but a resemblance nevertheless. Then she remembers an earlier remark of her mother about Pim's mother: �Even your father wasn't safe for this slut.� And Sabrina concludes �Half brothers�.

In the movie you can see Sabrina looking from Pim to Gino, in order to check the resemblance and then looking shocked and holding her hand before her mouth. That is all.

What does this mean for the scene where Gino's mother joins the hands of Pim and Gino? At first I thought it was her wish that the two boys would be friends again of even a blessing of their relationship, but now I'm not so sure anymore. Perhaps it was her way to tell that the boys are half brothers.

One other thing: In the book Sabrina thinks that Francoise isn't attending the funeral because she suffers from pregnancy illness. And that makes Gino far more bisexual in the book than in the movie....


is that book available in english??


Not really, I assumed that Gino had slept with her, whatever his sexuality in either version, it's a fact that gay men very often have sex with women, and even marry and have children. They do it because it is what they think is the correct life, and do not want to be gay.


Look at Marcus Bachmann, perfect example.


In the movie you can see Sabrina looking from Pim to Gino, in order to check the resemblance and then looking shocked and holding her hand before her mouth. That is all.

I have just finished watching the film. And I rewatched that scene after reading your post.

No, you are seeing something that isn't there at all. Sabrina takes the photo from her mum, stares at it, tells Gino to look at it and hands it to him without looking at him, puts her hand to her mouth as he looks at it, and only then does she look at him, just as he is turning to look at Pim, who is himself starting to look at the photo. Nowhere in the scene does Sabrina check to see a resemblance between Pim and Gino.


Harmless and beautiful is right. What difference does their being brothers make? Will one of them get pregnant and have a deformed baby? Uh... no. If they are brothers, then it would have been a lot riskier if Pim had let Gino push him into a relationship with Sabrina.

When Marcella joined Gino's and Pim's hands right before she died, she was giving her blessing to their relationship. The fact that she did not include Sabrina in that blessing implies that what she was blessing was not their relationship as brothers but as lovers - else why exclude Sabrina?

Regardless of what the book says, I'm not sure the movie makes them brothers. It wouldn't be the first time a movie changed something in the book it was based on, and since this forum is for the movie, not the book, what matters here is the movie, not the book. I can see evidence in the movie both for and against their being brothers, but the evidence that they are not brothers seems much stronger.

AGAINST their being brothers:

For one thing, the movie makes it pretty clear that Étienne is Gino and Sabrina's father. They have the same name (Étienne and Stefano are the French and Italian versions of the same name, which in English is Stephen; since Marcella probably is Italian, since her name is Italian, she may have called Étienne by the Italian version of his name, Stefano - while the native Belgians would have used the French version, Étienne). And if the photo Marcella shows them is not of Luk Wyns as a young man, they found a photograph of somebody who looks too much like him for it to be a coincidence. That Étienne is Gino and Sabrina's father is almost inescapable in the movie.

But Yvette told Pim it was a one-time thing when she and Étienne had sex at the hotel in Lille, and she bit him when he tried it again, after which they evidently broke up. If the night in Lille was a one-time thing (and whatever else she may be, Yvette isn't the sort to lie about something like that), then Étienne is not Pim's father. And he really looks nothing at all like Étienne or like Gino and Sabrina.

In casting the roles, they did an uncanny job of finding actors who look like siblings to play Gino and Sabrina; they could just as easily have found a boy who looked like them to play Pim, or at least dyed Jelle Florizoone's hair a darker color to make the connection more believable.

Pim and Gino don't look alike - at all - so Sabrina can't have been thinking they were brothers when she looked at them immediately after seeing her father's picture for the first time. It's much more likely that she was looking at them to see if they also recognized that it was Étienne.

Unlike an earlier poster, I didn't think the photo of Stefano looked like Pim at all, but it did look very much like a younger version of Étienne. That Marcella had hidden the photo from her kids until then because she didn't want them to know that Étienne was their father makes much more sense than that she didn't want them to know that Pim was their brother, since the photograph looks a lot like Étienne but almost nothing like Pim.

Anyway, why would she not want them to know it if Pim was their brother? It makes sense that she wouldn't want them to know Étienne was their father, but she loved Pim, she strongly approved of the relationship between Pim and Gino - so why would she try to hide their being brothers from them? It makes no sense. And, as Judge Judy says, if it don't make sense it probably ain't true.

FOR their being brothers:

The only thing I see is the fact that Étienne gave both Gino and Pim a knife. That could be seen as a father giving both of his sons the knife he thinks all boys should have. I can't think of any other evidence that Étienne is Pim's father - in the movie, which is the only thing I think we should be talking about here. What happens in the book is irrelevant since Defurne may have changed things from the book. But Étienne may have given them the knives because they were the only boys he was close to at all, and for whatever reason boys' having knives was important to him. That is at least as good an explanation for the knives as that both boys were his sons.

The bottom line:

I'm going to say it again, because it's important: What the book says is irrelevant. What the movie shows is what matters. The movie makes a much stronger case that Gino and Pim are not brothers than that they are. The "well-kept secret" - in the movie, at least - is that Étienne, Gino's boss, is also his and Sabrina's father, not that Pim is their brother. One makes sense and is supported by evidence in the movie; the other doesn't make sense because there is no reason why Marcella would keep that a secret; the matching knives are the only things in the movie that support that theory, and they can be explained in other ways.

Since I'm sure there are still people thinking, "But the book... ", I'll say this one more time: We are talking here about the movie, not about the book. What the book says is no more important than what any other book says unless the movie shows the same thing. The movie doesn't show definitively that Pim is Gino's brother, but it shows considerable evidence that he's not.

Why does it matter?

As I said at the top, it doesn't. They're lovers, in an extraordinarily loving and tender and beautiful and sexy relationship; that's what matters. Whether they're also brothers doesn't matter at all.

I'm just trying to get straight what the movie is showing about it, and that's what I come up with after having watched it many times, paying special attention to this question. I put a frame showing Stefano's photo right beside a frame showing Étienne and another showing Pim; the photo looks a lot like Étienne and nothing like Pim.

My personal preference would have Pim and Gino be brothers, because I happen to think it's neat for brothers to be lovers too, but the movie just doesn't support that scenario; if Defurne intended for it to, he failed.


Incest is a tricky subject. Normally, my disgust is with the fact that they were raised together as brothers. I don't care even if it's not blood, if you have sex with your adopted sibling who you were raised with in a family since you were small, that's messed up to me. But that's not the case here, they were always friends, but they were not raised as a family. So it's a lot more of a grey area. When it comes down to it, I have to admit, It's just gross in my opinion to have a sexual/romantic relationship with a blood relative. If I was in a situation where my kid fell in love with a blood relative, even if they never met until adulthood, I would probably react the way homophobic people do to their gay kids. Give me a gay kid, a polyamist kid, let them date people older than me once their adults, but incest across the line as far as I'm concerned.


Now that I am older and wiser I realize that we have no control over whom we fall in love with.


That awkward moment when you find out your lover is your brother.

They're clearly brothers. If you didn't think that after the first time you watched it, go back and watch it again with that in mind. The mom doesn't want to take Pim to the family get together (b/c they'd all recognize him as her exhusband), she makes comments about Pim's slutty mom, and even says that she slept with her husband, plus you never see Pim's dad. I wasn't 100% this is where they were heading until the hospital scene when the mom showed them the dad's picture. Pim and Gino might not look a lot a like, but they both bore a striking resemblance to the man in the photo.

I can see Gino & Sabrina's mom feeling sorry for Pim and wanting him to have a relationship with his half-sibs, but once things took an amorous turn, you think she might have said something. Sabrina always had an obvious thing for Pim since the beginning, and the mom was obviously aware that Gino and Pim started fooling around. Maybe she looked the other way b/c she was ashamed she'd let things get too far? Or she didn't think it was a big deal. Whatever the reason, she waited until the last moment (her deathbed) to reveal their paternity to the kids. This kind of goes in to what she meant by bringing Pim & Gino's hands together? To want them to makeup for the sake of brotherhood? To say she was sorry? That she was okay with their sexual relationship, and if it continued?

I haven't been able to read the book because I haven't found a copy in English, but it sounds (from what the above poster described) almost exactly like it happened in the film. They see the photo of their dad, he looks just like Pim and Gino, Sabrina recognizes that they're brothers immediately and is shocked.

In any case, it didn't seem to bother the boys they shared half their chromosomes, since they resumed their sexual relationship in the end. (Just think about how awkward that'll be for Sabrina. Like how will she introduce them to future friends? As her brothers, or her brother Gino and his boyfriend?) In regards to incest, I think it's something you either are okay with, or aren't. I don't think it should matter if Pim was with Gino or Pim was with Sabrina. They have the same dad, so it technically is incest. But, it's not like they were raised as siblings. It's a tough/interesting situation. Saying it's okay because they couldn't have "mutant babies" or whatever. To be honest they probably could have children with out too much repercussions. Incest babies are really more of an issue after it goes on for generations, that's why royal dynasties always have so many crazies or rulers with weird diseases/deformities.

I think saying Etienne is their dad is a real stretch. It's not the same man. At the very least, Gino would remember his father. People would know he was the mom's ex. They'd all lived there as a family. Plus, he doesn't look anything like any of his kids. That people would think that just b/c their names are similar never occurred to me.

Haters need not reply.


Wow. This is a thought provoking take on the story which completely changes the entire movie for me.

However, I'll stick with my original take on the movie, that after his mother ies Gino not only comes to terms with being gay but also with his true feelings for Pim. He then comes back from Dunkirk, still somewhat conflicted, until he and Pim kiss and embrace and Pim whispers, "Stay."

I like that better than thinking they're half brothers in an incestuous relationship because that's not hot. No. Not hot at all.


I think people are missing important points from the movie. Pim's mother liked to travel around and play her accordian, she made a comment about that it would be a dream to travel around from country to country without children, and she seemed to party and go out a lot. She didn't stay home with Pim often, it seemed. Gino's mother felt bad for Pim's family situation. He always came to her home when them went bad at his home. I thought Gino and Sabrina's father looked like Zoltan. Sabrina's reaction in the hospital I thought was to the fact that her mom was dying. They all got really silent and Pim goes over to the window. I don't think it was Etienne. I think after Gino and Sabrina's dad split he left and never came back to see his kids. I thought the sharing of hands was the mother's way of blessing the boys' relationship. There was a scene when the mother and Sabrina were making the bed for Pim and they were arguing about Sabrina not knowing anything about her father. Sabrina blurts out that the mom knew about Pim and Gino, but the mom cuts her off. I think showing the father's photo and her bringing the boys' hands together was her way of setting things right before she died.

My Store: http://skreened.com/pgaesthetics/


I agree. I thought that if anything, the man in the photo looked more like Zoltan than like Etienne. He didn't look anything like Etienne to me.


1. Reciting the alphabet is a sort of randomization game for him and the letter he stops on has some meaning for him.

2. No he wasn't trying to drown himself. He just needed to get away, he did his alphabet and ran out room running, was at the see, and just sort of released all his energy into it.

3. It was Etienne who was in the photo and who was Gino's father. Etienne was Pim's mother's boyfriend, the obnoxious one.

He kept important mementoes representing his feelings in a box and then would take them out and stand in the window open to the world


On a personal note I find this Film exquisite. Its subtlety, emotion and beauty are balanced to perfection. I am by nature a cynical and negative person but watching this film strips away all of the preconditioned ugliness within me and leaves me with an overwhelming feeling of hope, peace and joy.

1) Growing up being neglected and ignored by his mother, Pim has created personal and private rituals that he executes as a form of comfort and connection to the people he loves. Even if it is only in his own heart and juvenile mind,(as his need for love friendship and touch, are deep and yet given to him superficially) his rituals and fantasies bring those whom he loves within reach briefly and generally tentatively and temporary. He recites the alphabet to distance himself from the harsh and uncomfortable reality, then imagines he is the beauty queen that his beloved mother was. Later he has evolved to collecting keepsakes of the people whom he loves leaving behind the re-enactment ritual. He has simplified it into a material memory.

2)The beach scene was for Pim a cleansing, a letting go of the 'objects of his affection'. He begins with the old ritual behavior (the alphabet)but instead of getting stuck on a particular letter eg. G for Gino, He proceeds to the end of the alphabet and with out a place to end the pattern he moves on. Burning, destroying and ending the need to repeat the ritual. It was a literal and physical clenching. An end to the old habits and the start of the new man with a clean slate.

3)It was not entirely clear to me what the intention was with the photograph. For me, it prompted more questions than conclusions. It was vague enough to be a sort of closure for the two siblings, as they now had a face to put to the imagined version of an unknown father. The mother's gesture putting the two boy's hands together could be interpreted as an aknowledgement of their secret love, but could just as easily be seen as an indication that they are brothers,... family. The children of the same father, with different mothers. Her last chance to bring together the offspring of a man she loved yet who's infidelity separated them.


1) I think there is more to the alphabet than just a habit of dissociation of sorts. If you notice the first time he does it he ends on the letter 'O' and opens his eyes, the verb for opening in Dutch being 'opendoen' or something to that effect; later when he counts all the way to z he says 'sea' which would be 'zee' in Dutch.

So he seems to say the alphabet until he reaches the letter connected with whatever he wants to do or what is in front of him.