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Bracha van Doesburgh,
Years ago, Lepel's parents left an hot air balloon world tour. He stays with granny Koppenol, a mean bitch who constantly exploits him for domestic chores, in her buttons shop and even as accomplice in the department store where she steals the buttons from clothes. After she won't even leave him the balloon kind salesman Max gave him, Lepel, now 9, runs away. He meets Max's slightly older daughter Pleun. Schoolmaster Bijts is also looking for him, but only as arithmetics talent for an academic schools contest. Max accidentally finds out the sad truth about Lepel's family. Written by
Adults often don't try to watch kids movies, except if they have to, as their own children's company. And they find it to be punishment or wasted time. Often not without a reason. But Lepel is a movie that should be watched without prejudices, and it will give you a lot in return, on the adult level.
It is a movie about dreams, a dreams that can't turn to reality, analyzing limits how far can we go trying to live with or in them, and what are the compromises we make not to give them up completely, so at least a part of those dreams can come true.
We see a boy who dreams his parents will return home. They are supposed to travel around the world, that's what his grandmother tells him.. But she is abusing him; while he is dreaming about his mother he doesn't see or doesn't care for abuse and for obvious lies she is telling him. We see a shy salesman in love with his female boss, doing the best work to impress her, but afraid to say a word, let alone ask her for a date, scared to lose the dream he lives in. We see a woman, trained driver, working in a store and dreaming of going to Africa rally but aware that she, as a woman, doesn't have a chance to do it - and still she keeps on practicing. We see a teacher eager to have his pupil win the mathematics contest, ready to kidnap a boy, help abuser, cheat children, just to have his dream come true. We see a girl, victim of mother's abuse, who only wants to stay unnoticed for as long as she can, and never to have any mother again - but finding herself in situation to help a boy desperately seeking for one.
And all the dreams will somehow be realized... but not a single in a simple way, without sacrifices and compromises.
A scene where a friendly salesman helps boy in search for new mother, and more than a hundred women take part in interview, asks us unpleasant questions about family in today society, when many women offer themselves as (foster)mothers, but mostly for selfish reasons, ready to do and give only what the boy had in his previous dysfunctional family. And the only good adult female person refuses to be a mother, because today families and parenting are so complicated that she feels she is not up to do it. People who have heart and conscience are rare, and don't fit in our world.
In most children movies runaway kids have numerous adventures, they solve mysteries, find treasures, they are smarter than adults, go from peril to peril and nothing can happen to them. And if they have a company, police or secret services can't do anything to beat them.
Kids in Lepel are not superheros. Yes, Lepel runs away, but he doesn't go to distant country or desert island. He lives in neighbourhood warehouse. A crowded place where he can hide, but always in danger to be found. Yes, a girl helps him. A girl who also lives there, for a long time. Unbelievable? For a short while; but then we learn that a salesman knows she is there, he helps her all the time, hides her, prevents other people to find her hiding place. These makes the story almost realistic.
But a big flaw waits (as usually) till the end. Our older hero Max, salesman, is a lousy driver. But, to impress his boss who he is in love with, he drives a borrowed car so good that she takes him as a co-driver for the really race in Africa. And he drove so good only because a 8 year old boy (who also, of course, isn't a driver) tells him how to do it, using his knowledge of maths... So, goodbye driving instructors, all you need is a kid and in a few minutes you are new Schumacher or Loeb.
Other than that, a film can be recommended to people who still have heart and conscience... and, let's hope, a family.
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