About child abduction. Every two days in The Netherlands there is an abducted child. Most children never see their mother and family back. Janneke Schoonhoven from Oude Pekela is one of the few who succeeded thanks to her huge struggle to get her children back. Everyone in The Netherlands was watching, when her children were brought back by minister Bot, after they hid for half a year at the Dutch embassy in Syria. Janneke and her children became the symbol for hope. This film tries to get attention for a complex recurring problem, which many agencies continue to look on helplessly. The film begins August 2004. Hanne (Karina Smulders) trusts her two children (of 9 and 11 years old) to their father and her ex-husband Nizar (Cahit Olmez). He claims to take them to Euro Disney in Paris. After a couple of days Hanne gets a phone call from Nizar who is in the Dutch Embassy in Damascus, Syria. Nizar tells her that he had to escape to Syria because he was threatened in The Netherlands. Hanne... Written by
Basically, what we get is another variation of Not Without My Daughter" (1991), likewise based on a true story: Hanne (Karina Smolders, playing a role similar to Sally Field's Betty Mahmoody) is a naïve young woman from The Netherlands, who marries Arab Nazim (Cahit Olmez), has two children with him, both which are abducted by his father to his native Syria. A legal and eventually physical struggle to reunite the children with their mother ensues.
It would have been easy to turn this film into a pure tear-jerker, based on sentimentality or prying on the audience sense for the sensational, but "Kom niet aan mijn kinderen" actually remains rather neutral, unsentimental, and essentially non-judgemental.
For contemporary standards, the film doesn't try to ride the "politically correct" wave that is currently popular in Europe; rather, it shows us the sober results when modern-western culture clashes with a mentality that is basically rooted in the middle-ages. Special credit must be given to actor Olmez: again, it would have been easy to draw his character as an essentially atavistic character but his portrayal goes deeper than that. Nizar isn't some backward fundamentalist, but rather a victim-turned-abuser; scared by a paranoid upbringing in a restrictive society and feeling abused and unwanted in Europe, we feel that he loves his children but simply cannot jump over his own shadow. There's a fine line between feeling sympathy for Nizar and outrage at the way he treats his children and (ex-)wife.
"Kom niet aan mijn kinderen" is obvious made-for-TV; isn't big, hyped cinema like above mentioned Not Without My Daughter", but that's an advantage, rather than a limitation. It's unlikely you'll come across this film outside of Europe or even outside of Europe's more quality-geared TV-channels, but if you do, I can recommend it over the melodramatic "Not Without My Daughter" anytime.
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