A slaughterhouse worker appears to be romantically involved with his boss's wife. They plan to leave the country together, but at the airport she waits for him in vain. Slowly but surely ... See full summary »
Mike van Diem
Maeve van der Steen,
Coen van Vrijberghe de Coningh
When medical student Irena discovers that she can see through people, her live takes a surprising turn after she finds out that she is able to see bone structures, organs bloodstreams and ... See full summary »
Mike van Diem
Eline Van der Velden,
In January 1945, during the 2nd world-war, the Dutch resistance kills a collaborator in the street where the 12 year old Anton Steenwijk lives. The man was shot in front of his neighbors ... See full summary »
Derek de Lint,
Marc van Uchelen,
Monique van de Ven
Franta Louka is a concert cellist in Soviet-occupied Czechoslovakia, a confirmed bachelor and a lady's man. Having lost his place in the state orchestra, he must make ends meet by playing ... See full summary »
In the 1890s, Father Adolf Daens goes to Aalst, a textile town where child labor is rife, pay and working conditions are horrible, the poor have no vote, and the Catholic church backs the ... See full summary »
Antje de Boeck
An eccentric multimillionaire signs an agreement to have his life ended. While selecting his coffin he meets a young woman who has signed up for the same arrangement. Trouble ensues when ... See full summary »
Mike van Diem
Jeroen van Koningsbrugge,
J.W. Katadreuffe is the son of Joba Katadreuffe and A.B. Drevenhaven. Though fully neglected by Joba, Dreverhaven ensures the succesfull career of his son. Mostly unseen, though he sues his son a few times. The son Katadreuffe succeeds, but at great costs. Written by
Klaas van Gend <Klaas@vangend.demon.nl>
How is it possible for a boy, whose parents are devoid of normal humanity, to grow up to be loved and respected? The film, Character, presents a credible demonstration. It has the darkness of Ingmar Bergman or Charles Dickens, is slow-moving, thoroughly engrossing and it left me emotionally drained, which always elicits a high rating from me.
Dreverhaven is apparently an evil man: a bailiff who is quite willing to evict people in a terrible storm. He embodies two Nietzschean concepts: 1. the will to power (he entered into power struggles with anyone whom he felt he could dominate) and 2. that a life becomes better by becoming stronger through adversity (he did everything in his power to bring adversity to his son, believing that that would strengthen him--and in many ways it did). His internal struggle between the will to power over his son and his desire to strengthen him is the prime mover of the film; his son's reactions to that are the core. Dreverhaven is also totally fearless; the question arises whether it is caused by bravery or just being tired of life.
The film opens with his son, Jacob Katadreuffe (Fedja van Huêt), coming home, all bloody, only to be arrested as a suspect in the murder of Dreverhaven. He then tells the two interrogators a most amazing story. Since he is describing his own life, one might suspect that he is embellishing the story in his own favour but I believe that he was totally candid.
The story is too complex to dwell on but certain aspects must be mentioned. Jacob's mother, Joba (Betty Schuurman), was a servant to Dreverhaven. On one and only one occasion he may have raped her: it is not made clear if she resisted. As soon as she discovered that she was pregnant, she left him and tried to sever all ties. For a long time, however, Dreverhaven repeatedly proposed marriage and was refused. His motivation is ambiguous (propriety or affection) and Joba was apparently determined not to allow Dreverhaven to beat her in a power struggle.
Because of his Mother's silence, young Jacob believed that she did not like him and, being a pariah because he was illegitimate, he turned to books for solace. Through this he developed a love of learning and a willingness to work hard and he advanced rapidly in a law firm, winning the respect and admiration of most of his colleagues, especially De Gankelaar (Victor Löw), who hired him. De Gankelaar, a man with a huge underbite and a heart to match, became Jacob's mentor, adviser and protector.
Denied access to his son, Dreverhaven began a game of terror against Jacob through legal channels.
The film is a study of character and characters. Their motivations are subtly hidden by consistent and superb acting. In my attempts to understand this dysfunctional family (if it can be called a family) I was forced to think. The slow movement allowed time for that. I want to see the film again, expecting that each viewing will bring a closer understanding. Even the evil Dreverhaven was more an object of pity rather than despicable; his actions were caused more by ignorance of human sensitivities, a dogmatic respect for the law and an unusual philosophy rather than by malice. The film is open-ended. What will Jacob do with the rest of his life?
26 of 27 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?