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De Afstand is a well-made tale of alienation despite its very low budget and largely amateur cast.
The plot starts with a sailor receiving an old film camera and a box of super 8-films he shot as a teenager, together with the message that his best friend has died of a drugs overdose.
The film reels supply the flashbacks that explain what happened between the protagonist and his friend. We slowly become aware that the sailor has always used his camera to create a distance between himself and the world, to observe instead of taking part in life. This becomes painfully clear when he films how his black shipmate is being beaten up by bunch of Italians, rather than intervening, and afterwards filming himself while he punishes himself for not acting.
Reliving the past finally sets the sailor on the path back home and back to reality, the catharsis coming unceremoniously in the room of a harbor prostitute.
The Weltschmerz theme may not be popular anymore, but it is well presented in this quite straightforward, non-sensational tale.
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