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Character (1997)
"Karakter" (original title)

R  |   |  Crime, Drama, Mystery  |  27 March 1998 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.8/10 from 8,951 users  
Reviews: 66 user | 49 critic

Jacob Katadreuffe lives mute with his mother, has no contact with his father who only works against him and wants to become a lawyer, at all costs.



(short story "Dreverhaven en Katadreuffe" and novel "Karakter") (as F. Bordewijk) , (screenplay), 2 more credits »
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Title: Character (1997)

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Won 1 Oscar. Another 15 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Betty Schuurman ...
Tamar van den Dop ...
Lorna Te George
Victor Löw ...
De Gankelaar
Hans Kesting ...
Lou Landré ...
Bernard Droog ...
Frans Vorstman ...
Inspecteur de Bree
Fred Goessens ...
Jasper Gottlieb ...
Jacob 6 jaar
Marius Gottlieb ...
Jacob 6 jaar
Pavlik Jansen op de Haar ...
Jacob 12 jaar
Marisa Van Eyle ...
Jiffrouw Sibculo
Wim Van Der Grijn ...
2e Inspecteur


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 <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Crime | Drama | Mystery

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:




| | |

Release Date:

27 March 1998 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Character  »

Box Office


$4,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$37,268 (USA) (27 March 1998)


$713,413 (USA) (5 June 1998)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Based on the novel 'Karakter' and the short story 'Dreverhave and Katadreuffe' by dutch writer F. Bordewijk (1884-1965). See more »


In one of the street scenes, you can see an extra in modern outfit and with no headwear on. See more »


[first lines]
Jacob Katadreuffe: I came to tell you. Today I have been sworn in as a lawyer. You must be sorry but I am sworn in and this is the last time I'll come here. Farewell for ever. You no longer exist for me.
Dreverhaven: Congratulations.
Jacob Katadreuffe: You congratulate me? I can't take your hand. The hand of someone who always opposed me.
Dreverhaven: Or helped.
Dreverhaven: Or helped.
See more »


Featured in The 79th Annual Academy Awards (2007) See more »

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User Reviews

Hauntingly beautiful character study
28 July 2005 | by (Amsterdam, Netherlands) – See all my reviews

This is a movie that grips right away. While it has a dark setting, sparse but classic, the characters are rich. The love and care that Mike van Diem and the actors put in this film is visible. Thanks to significant contributions from both Dutch and Belgian TV stations, this movie is a rare treat, which is for once not spoiled by overly commercial requirements from demanding advertisers... As i understand, the film company First Floor Features had this film for decade(s?) in the planning, and it is a happy coincidence that it was realized the way you can enjoy it now. It has thus become a monument honoring the fabulous writer F. Bordewijk, the Dutch life and mind of the beginning 1900's, the craftsmanship of a dedicated cast, and a generous producer.

Jan Declair as the stony-hearted usher Dreverhaven is a character you won't forget for a long time. His softer side is time and again rejected by taciturn Joba, his former housekeeper who became pregnant in one lonely weak moment of them both. For several years, he offers her to marry her, or at least to contribute for the upbringing of his illegitimate son Kattedreuffe. She as many times rejects: 'We do not need anything.' On a precarious occasion, Dreverhaven denounces Jacob Kattadreuffe nevertheless, and from that moment on, father and son have a harsh relation as well. -

Masterfully, fate intertwines their lives, as the story unfolds. Real gems are present everywhere, the scenery is breathtakingly picturesque, partly filmed in Rotterdam harbor, and in other places like Poland. The movie constantly plays with time, but in a plausible way. As an example, when Kattedreuffe has an appointment at a bailiff's office after being framed into bankruptcy, the name plate blinks at once with his own name on it. And indeed, he starts a career in this very office that same day.

For a while, the lives of father and son seem only occasionally to coincide, but it is a silence before the storm. Every picture draws to the dramatic end which was glimpsed as the opening scene: Did Kattadreuffe murder Dreverhaven? Many instances shown would allow this conclusion, as the two fatally attract each other to fulfill their inner tragedy. Dreverhaven as this hard and desperate 'keeper of the law' who can not express love, and Kattadreuffe as the one who had to fight his whole life to arrive in a higher position, and then stands empty-handed, his love unreturned through his own stupidity (even his mother sees that Lorna Te George / Tamar van den Dop was an exquisite relation missed).

To kill (!) each other would suddenly seem like the best possibility and a liberation in such a dark hour, but the end has a surprise. The last minute smooths all the giant waves, and allows for a satisfying and ingenuous end scene. - Maybe you have to see this movie more than once to uncover the many hidden treasures, i strongly recommend to get it for yourself on DVD. The music of 'Paleis van Boem' enhances perfectly the impressive scenery. It is an artwork that has more than earned the Oscar it has got as best foreign film in 1998, along with several other awards.

And i am proud to have been asked to participate with calligraphy and handwritten material, although it is only clearly visible in the last half minute when (my) hand writes the last words of the testament, undersigning with - (see for yourself!).

12 of 15 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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