Director Frans Weisz asked Willem Nijholt to read with Anne Martien Lousberg with no intention of casting him to play her father, because he was some 10 years too old. But as soon as he left, Lousberg decided that Nijholt was the right actor for her. Coincidentally, Nijholt had left his gloves behind, and when Weisz called to tell him this, he also told him he got the part. See more »
Based on Marja Brouwers first novel of the same title, 'Havinck' follows a lawyer (Willem Nijholt) and his daughter Eva (Anne Martien Lousberg) getting to grips with the apparent suicide of his wife/her mother, Lydia (Will van Kralingen). Along the way we see snippets of Havinck and Lydia's marriage by way of flashbacks and find out both parties were having extra marital affairs.
This is the kind of small scaled picture that critics love and audience ignore, with the possible exception of the so-called Art House crowd. Huub Stapel, who was at the time the closest thing Dutch cinema had to a movie star was originally offered the lead, but thought he was too young for the part. Nijholt, at age 50, was ten years too old. But director Frans Weisz, who screen testing countless leading men opposite Lousberg, still wanted Nijholt to read with her, because he had a feeling Willem could bring out the best in Anne Martien. The young actress obviously felt the same way, because she decided there and then that Nijholt was the one to play her father. He ended up winning the coveted 'Golden Calf' award (the Duch equivalent of the Academy Award) for his efforts.
However, according to his biography written with Ruud Buurman, Willem Nijholt felt neglected on set by director Weisz, who was reserving all his attention for débutant Anne Martien Lousberg. Used to acting on stage and for Television, Willem felt like a fish out of water on a film set himself. Fortunately for him, a positive reaction came from a most unusual source: Italian director of photography Giuseppe Lanci. Constantly busy measuring the light between shots, Lanci, who did not speak any Dutch, gave Nijholt the encouragement he needed by looking him straight in the eyes, smiling and touching his cheek after one particularly well performed scene.
It is good to see Nijholt play the lead in an actual motion picture for once, but a shame that it is such a downbeat story and he's playing a not very likable character. Lousberg is equally good as young Eva, and there is the usual gaggle of competent supporting characters who round out the cast without adding too much to the proceedings.
7 out of 10
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