“Zillion”: a little crook’s life without depth, and without a real filmmaker’s gaze

Frank Verstraeten (Jonas Vermeulen) in “Zillion”, by Robin Pront.


In 1997, little computer genius Frank Verstraeten was barely 30 years old when he was already making millions. Fascinated by the mirages of nightlife, the bespectacled geek decides to collaborate with a local porn king: in Antwerp, they open the Zillion, which was in its time the biggest nightclub in Europe and a perfect cover for the fraudulent activities of their owners.

The film by Robin Pront, Zillionfollows the clear path of a “rise and fall movie” electrified by ambition, sex, drugs and the techno hits of the 1990s. The biopic, dubbed by the real Frank Verstraeten, fits like a park attractions that would circulate in the work of the American filmmaker Martin Scorsese: story of the interested party in voice-over, epileptic montage, ample camera movements sliding on bacchanals, portrait of a self-made-man whose capitalist hubris will smash against the wall of reality – the taxman will sound the end of recreation.

The Flemish Robin Pront is inspired as much by Freedmen (1990), by Casino (1995) than wolf of wall street (2013). So many crushing totems against which Zillion looks like a very pale counterfeit: it lacks a real filmmaker’s gaze that would sublimate this little life of a crook without depth. Failing to manage to distance the vulgarity of his character, Zillion ends up making it his own.

Belgian and Dutch film by Robin Pront. With Jonas Vermeulen, Matteo Simoni, Charlotte Timmers (2h18).

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