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Near the end of World War II, 14-year-old Michiel becomes involved with the Resistance after coming to the aid of a wounded British soldier. With the conflict coming to an end, Michiel comes of age and learns of the stark difference between adventure fantasy and the ugly realities of war. Written by
Pusan International Film Festival
Tense, yet restrained movie about a boy who discovers that war is more than just an exciting adventure.
When he finds the escaped pilot from a crashed British fighter plane, lead character Michiel's first emotion is one of excitement. Disappointed in his father's - the town mayor - seemingly lacking resistance towards the German occupation forces he guards his find like a coveted treasure.
It's his way to not only be part of the resistance but also to rebel against his father who does not want Michiel to get into any kind of trouble. Michiel wants to be like his live-in uncle Ben, who as a smuggler is more like his concept of a resistance hero.
The story obviously centers on Michiel's attempts to get the British pilot safely back to Britain, and this is presented in an exciting way with plenty of thrills and narrow escapes. At the same time the underlying theme of Michiel's growing up in extraordinary circumstances is just as interesting. The changes in his character, his motivations and his perception of the world around him are shown in a subtle and convincing way.
Good directing and generally fine acting help move the story along nicely, with both exciting action scenes and a realistic portrayal of 'normal' rural life during war time.
Director Martin Koolhoven successfully manages to balance all story elements and underlying themes in a movie that is both accessible as a straightforward adventure movie but offers some character driven themes as well.
Only minor criticisms are the dialogue which at times is difficult to understand (a common problem in Dutch movies) and the sometimes excessive use of hand-held cameras.
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