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The movie you will surely fail to forget

8/10
Author: Marcin Kukuczka from Cieszyn, Poland
10 April 2007

"Vroeger Bestaat Niet Meer" (which may be translated as "The past matters no longer") by a Dutch director Joost Ranzijn is not so much a movie of action but rather a movie about states of mind while getting over the shock of tragedy. A family face a terrible drama - the younger son, Florin, has died in an accident. Although his parents have an elder daughter, 17 year-old Sasha, they cannot recover from the shock and accuse her for bearing a guilt in that accident. Sasha, therefore, feels lonely, faces hallucinations, tries to keep in touch with people whom her parents forbid her to see, badly wants to start life on her own. She cannot stand the endless reflections on past events but, at the same time, she is afraid to allow herself to forget what was... Will she, at last, start to live? Will she be accepted in her family? Will the state of her mind change for better? What is the most important thing in her life, in any life? Are you bound to suffer because of the past till the end of your life?

These questions as well as the entire movie absolutely absorbed me. Although there is not much action which we all are used to nowadays, the film constitutes an exceptional insight into the psyches of the main characters. Although there are not many of them, the few ones we find are particularly well developed. I got an impression that I know these people since I could identify with their feelings and emotions. For someone who reflects on important aspects of life and existence, the character of Sasha Mensch is just a brilliant interpretation of a young person who seeks love, who seeks understanding, and who is, though rebellious, very straightforward, actually..."What would you do if I were dead instead?" she asks her parents. For a mother who lost her child, Tessa Mensch is an accurate representation of motherly love..."I still feel he is with us" For a father who experiences torn feelings in his family, Quinten Mensch is terrific as a depiction of hidden suffering... "I am not in the mood for talking. Leave me alone"

The performances, particularly female ones, are really worth consideration. Young Yoka Verbeek (she was 18 when she played in this role) is a terrific choice for Sasha. She gives a profound performance as a girl and a young woman at the same time, as a sister/daughter and an individual but, foremost, as a teenager who looks for first sympathies but is constantly haunted by the obstacle of the past. She is absolutely brilliant in her part. This role was her debut and she really does her best. A promising young actress! Loes Wouterson as Tessa portrays very well someone torn apart, a mother who is bound to suffer terribly. I was moved by the way she expresses grief at her son's grave combined with anger and powerlessness. It was just like looking at a real mother who experiences a drama. And Tara Elders as Roos - found so crazy by Sasha's parents due to... (you will see) - pretty good theme.

Finally, the entire atmosphere in the movie is truly memorable. It is not very sad, in no way does it upset you, but it has that special mood, a bit of nostalgia combined with meditation and loneliness. The Dutch land where the film was certainly shot also supplied me with an authentic feeling of where the story is taking place as well as the beauty of picturesque flat Dutch landscape which has a special charm not found in other European countries.

"Vroeger Bestaat Niet Meer" is a good film, but it is certainly not a film for everyone. As you can deduce from my comment, it is a purely psychological movie with a very specific atmosphere. Action lovers will surely find it boring, comedy lovers will find it sad. However, it is very nearly a masterpiece for all people who love reflections, empathy but also good performances since it is still a movie after all. Prepare for 75-minute inner experience! Surely, something you will fail to forget after seeing once. 8/10!

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