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Nico and Leo are getting married. Their entire family and both their exes are in attendance. Some of these are performing musical numbers on stage. But memories of the war and the fact that Leo's mother died in a concentration camp keeps coming to the forefront. Written by
It seems as if director Frans Weisz is focusing more and more on intimate family relations in his films as he gets older. After working on comedy and musicals in the Seventies and dramas in the Eighties, he made a film version of Judith Herzberg's play "Leedvermaak". The play, also known as 'Polonaise', was first performed in 1983 and based on improvisations by the original cast. The film version turned out to be the first in a trilogy chronicling a family that is still suffering because of the Halocaust generations after the fact.
Lea (Catherine ten Bruggencate) and Nico (Pierre Bokma) are getting married and her parents, Ada (Kitty Courbois) and Simon (Peter Oosthoek) throw them an extravagant party. The entire event is being caught on video by Lea's ex Alexander (Hugo Haenen). A number of guests have prepared the usual silly and embarrassing musical numbers to perform, including Nico's stepmother Duifje (Sigrid Koetse). But despite all of this, the subject of the holocaust keeps rearing it's ugly head in conversation, as Ada and Simon are both Auschwitz survivors and Nico's father Zwart (Rijk de Gooyer) lost his first wife in the war. Also attending is the woman who sheltered Lea during that time: Riet (Annet Nieuwenhuyzen).
The entire film takes place in the time leading up to, during and just after the wedding party. There are a lot of characters to keep track off and a whole bunch of instrumental versions of Sixties and Seventies hits performed by The Bach Boys led by Pim Oosthoek in the background. Although the story is supposed to be set in the Seventies, Alexander's video camera seem to stem from a later era. All during the party, people of various ages contemplate sex, death, lost loves, future loves that may be or may have been, and turning on the lights when you get home.
The film was critically lauded and received a number of prices, including 'Golden Calf' awards for Weisz, Bokma and Nieuwenhuijzen. This inspired the director, the playwright and the entire cast to reunite a dozen years later for "Qui vive" (following the same family in the Eighties) and another eight years after that with "Happy End" (the final part set in the Nineties). This is especially notice worthy as neither of the first two films was a substantial big hit outside the art house crowd and the films remain relatively unknown with the greater part of the Dutch audience.
7 out of 10
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