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23 out of 28 people found the following review useful:

Nice film, well directed with lots of beautiful shots.

7/10
Author: Jaap Blom from Utrecht, Holland
29 September 2007

The atmosphere of the movie is formed by long shots of certain slow paced situations which are often a bit strange or slightly absurdistic. These shots are often really beautiful images and are never a chore to watch. I especially like the shots of the street where the main character lives.

The style/atmosphere/humor of the movie reminds me also a bit of the director Alex van Warmerdam.

As far as the story goes, in order to figure out the meaning of it, it is needed to look at the characters as archetypes, rather than regular individuals. I personally want to watch the movie again in order to fully understand the meaning of it all.

This being my first Jos Stelling film, I can say I truly enjoyed it and I am curious to watch more of his work.

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17 out of 26 people found the following review useful:

Duska

6/10
Author: Raj Doctor from Amsterdam, Netherlands
5 October 2007

I got interested to see this movie because of its reviews, being a Dutch film, heard that it won some awards and the photography was good.

The story is about Bob (Gene Bervoets) a movie journalist – who spends lonely times seeing movies, staying alone opposite a movie theatre, writing on computer, drinking, eating and keeping his house in a mess – just a lazy tired life – hoping for something to happen. He eagerly longs for a girl (Sylvia Hoeks) working in the theatres, who one days ends up in Bob's apartment. Just at that moment there is a knock at the door and an old friend of Bob arrives – Duska (Sergei Makovetsky) from Russia. Bob tries hard to chase of Duska from his apartment and life, but does not succeed. Intercut - there is a flashback in the movie about how Bob met Duska in Russia. One day Duska leaves the house and Bob goes to Russia to search for him, and is left alone on a deserted village with his own fright. At last a bus arrives and Bob jumps in.

The Director Jos Stelling has made a movie after a gap of 4 years. He has his own style of movie making. There are minimal dialogues, but the flow of story goes on well. The movie deals with three characters and their emotions, which are captured perfectly. Jos is a thinking director and leaves lots of things for the audiences to imagine and understand.

I loved the movie because of its style and narrative. It was light and not heavy – like a recent Dutch movie I saw Wolfsbergen directed by Nanouk Leopold, which I found in a similar format and style was not so interesting.

The music was good. Cinematography excellent. Gene Bervoets, Sylvia Hoeks and Sergei Makovetsky have acted very well and remained in tight scripted roles that Director Jos wants them to narrate.

Good movies for people who want to see experimental cinema.

(Stars 6.5 out of 10)

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5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

the true masterpiece

10/10
Author: Peter P from Netherlands
12 June 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This movie is about an older film critic (Bob) who lives a lonely life and goes through his daily routine with not much things going on in his life. What becomes apparent from the very beginning of the movie is that Bob is emotionally reserved person, introvert, and as such secure: with no friends or family he has nothing to risk and nothing to lose, but also nothing to gain on a deep, emotional level. Secure in his little world -- consisting of his apartment and a nearby cinema -- he keeps his daily routine going on for years.

However, things start to change when he becomes attracted to a much younger girl (Sylvia Hoeks) working in the theater. His long-time suppressed emotionality starts to surface and an inner struggle develops. He finally has a chance to find happiness in his life, but on the expense of emotional attachment and vulnerability. The main character's emotional component is depicted through Bob's alter ego -- Duska -- an uninvited visitor who speaks language Bob does not understand and who doesn't want to leave.

Once it is understood that Duska is not a real person, but a suppressed component of Bob's personality, all other pieces of the movie fit together perfectly.

This is a full, big movie, with superb story, acting, and music. The topic is universal and timeless and the way it is handled is brilliant. There are no loose ends -- the storyline is well-developed through the movie and closed at the end. A sincere and true masterpiece. 10/10

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

A largely misunderstood cinematic masterpiece

9/10
Author: Leonid Storch (exclusiveshortfilms) from Thailand
31 May 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"Bob, a socially inept Dutch film critic has a crush on a young girl half his age. As he is trying to draw her attention, Duska, an unexpected guest more bizarre than himself, intervenes into his life turning it into a nightmare. A jobless and pretty much homeless loner, Duska comes all the way from Ukraine to the Netherlands, just because some time ago, while in Ukraine, Bob was careless enough to take him to a party and treat him with a cigarette. Having an engaging, albeit childish and obnoxious personality, he offers to Bob something that Bob does not need, a friendship. Bob finally manages to get rid of the crazy Russian, only to realize that Duska was indeed the only person who cared about him. And so he flies to Ukraine to find him. Bla-bla-bla…"

That's more or less what most of the viewers saw in that movie. To make things worse, this perception was pretty much shared by critics. It was shocking for me to realize that none of them, pompous rottentomatoes experts included, understood what Jos Stelling's film was really all about (in fact the only one who did, was one Peter P, an IMDb reviewer whose posts appears right above mine – cheers, Peter!). So this is not a story of a like/hate relationship between two dysfunctional persons, nor is it an attempt to create a Russian version of Mr Bean, equally idiosyncratic but lacking the charm. Haunted by a seemingly parallel clash between Rowald Atkinson's character and his Los Angeles host, critics could never get over Mr Bean curse here. No wonder everyone complained of "Duska's" unjustified overlength, wishing it had ended twenty minutes after the first twenty minutes. Wake up ladies and gentlemen! Had Stelling done this, it would have been a "Count Monte-Cristo" ending with Edmond Dantes' arrest, a hardly warranted effort to save time.

How can one fail to see that Duska is nothing more nor less than Bob himself, his alter ego. Bob is a symbol of failure: He's in his fifties, he's alone, he has no friends, no woman, no love. He's scared of living and feeling – a typical West European syndrome. He doesn't know how to approach a woman he likes. It's she who makes the first move, but once she does and nearly drags him to bed, she doesn't know what to do: Making love is too real, too energy-consuming to him. So everything in his life remains unaccomplished: Both the unconsummated love and the unfinished short story that he's been writing forever are sad symbols of his reality. What he needed in order to succeed as a person and to enjoy life is the childishness and easy-goingness that Duska has. Destiny gives Bob another chance and brings him what he lacks, and yet he rejects the gift.

To take one step further, I'll say this: Duska may be more than Bob's missing alter ego; it's his soul itself. This interpretation unavoidably comes to mind since "Duska" is derived from "dusha", Russian for a "soul". Turning his back on his soul, his other "self", Bob finally faces what Stelling's character in "De Wisselwatcher" comes to face, DEATH. Bob's study is emptied, his desk covered with withered leaves and a cobweb, his building half demolished, and his never-would-be girlfriend reading the short story which finally gets finished, for death is a noble ending to his unlived life. The movie's finale – the scenes in Ukraine – is either a synopsis of the short story's ending or an allegory of Bob's self-reconciliation, or both. He finds himself back in Ukraine. He's looking for Duska and he finds him. The antique bus where Duska was born is where from now on they'll be together.

The wonderful script is complemented by superb acting: Gene Bervoets (Bob) and Sergei Makovetsky (Duska). My only reservation is that Stelling was somewhat sloppy and cliché-dependent in the way he showed Russia, Ukraine that is (hence, only a 9). Even the title of the film itself did not avoid this sloppiness: "Duska" is a low-life female name; what Stelling meant was "DusHka" (with an H) – not a big deal if don't speak Russian, but a huge distraction if you do. These shortcomings however do not justify the lack of better publicity that the film certainly deserves.

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7 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

disappointingly boring

3/10
Author: Maaike7 from Netherlands
28 September 2008

As some other reviewers on this site spoke positive about this movie my expectations were positive. I have to confess I found the movie utterly disappointing and terribly boring from the beginning to the end. The male characters were not credible to me, the psychology of the characters was not developed (you never got to know these people), the Russian males were portrayed in an embarrassingly cliché fashion (drunk, silly headgear). The whole film felt very amateur. Although attractive Syvia Hoeks did brighten it up a bit for me, she did not get much chance to show her acting talent (watch her in De Ontmoeting!). I cannot believe that this movie was sent in for a best foreign film award. It won my personal price for worse film I watched ever!

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