Merel, a talented young girl, is suddenly getting bullied at school.


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Elske Rotteveel ...
Merel de Leeuw
Kees Scholten ...
Kasper de Leeuw
Elsie de Brauw ...
Mrs. De Leeuw
Jaap Spijkers ...
Mr. De Leeuw
Bright O'Richards ...
Bente de Vries ...
Floris Heyne ...
Carmen Otten ...
Sharai Voet ...
Samir Veen ...
Ramon Lieshout ...
Bodine van Zalk ...
Blond meisje 1
Avalon Verbunt ...
Blond meisje 2
Florentijn van Meeuwen ...
Eline Hoorn ...


Merel is a young girl with a lot of talent. She excels at school, is good on the springboard and is careful too. Her severely handicapped brother Kasper gets a lot of attention. Merel also has talent for singing. It is no surprise that she is asked for the school musical. But maybe Merel is a bit too convinced of herself. When people perform solos, she likes to sing along loudly. This doesn't fall on good ground though. People start ignoring her and she is getting bullied. All of the sudden Merel's life isn't that easy anymore, it will be hard to keep herself together. Written by Arnoud Tiele (

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Drama | Music





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Release Date:

10 April 2004 (Netherlands)  »

Box Office


€1,100,000 (estimated)

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The Man Who Sold the World
Written by David Bowie
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User Reviews

A wonderful coming of age story with a special take on bullying
31 May 2006 | by (Portland, Oregon, United States) – See all my reviews

A few minutes into this delightful film, my partner whispered, "Merel doesn't waste a second." That's right, she doesn't, and neither does this outstandingly well crafted coming-of-age film about a precocious and ambitious 12 year old girl living in Rotterdam. Merel (young Elske Rotteveel) would be quick to correct my last statement, pointing out that she is in fact 12 ½ years old, not 12.

Merel zooms on her skateboard to barely catch the morning train, reads Roald Dahl on the trip to school, aces the oral discussions in her classes, dashes off after school to fetch her kid brother Kasper and wheel him home (he's a Thalidomide child without hands or forearms, unable to walk), then on to her high diving lesson at the swim club, or to the next rehearsal for the musical "Turandot" that she's in, then homework and snuggling up with Dad to watch TV for a minute, but only after she has bathed Kasper and lovingly acted out a story using little figurines to entertain him.

What's wrong with this picture? Well, for one thing, Merel doesn't appear to have a single peer friend. For another, she seems more than a little pushy in asserting her mastery of everything she attempts. When the lead singer in "Turandot" rehearses a solo, Merel - who naturally has memorized the lead part in addition to her own choruses - sings along and must be shushed by the drama coach. In class she's quick to signal that she knows the answers and she's always right, always.

She doesn't act the snob or smarty pants: far from it. Her manner is entirely natural and unassuming. In fact she exudes a wondrous confidence and charm; she's tender and loving toward her family. She is just so damnably competent that she's irrepressible. And she's so busy, her life is so full, that she hasn't yet felt lonely, felt the need for friends. Her mindless diffidence and superior achievements begin to cost her big time with the other kids at school, as she becomes the target of escalating teases and worse.

The story hurtles along toward the climax and resolution of her social dilemma, reaching a conclusion that is fitting and believable. Splendid supporting turns are contributed by Kees Scholten as Kasper, and by a male actor named Anne Buurma, who befriends Merel on the train and nicknames her "Bluebird." Don't for a second be put off by the fact that this little gem was made for TV. You won't see a better C-o-A story for some time to come. This movie should be required viewing in every middle school in America. My grade: A- 9/10

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