|Index||4 reviews in total|
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It isn't as if there is any blight of good films involving the
transition from adolescence into young adulthood in the marketplace;
but, for my tastes, I find it refreshing as of late to find so many of
them coming from the foreign markets. Well, for too long the American
teenage experience I'm not putting it down, as I lived through my
very own has dominated the films about this awkward time in
everyone's life; if nothing else, I find it reassuring to know that our
foreign brother and sisters struggle with much of the same emotional
highs and lows because it unites us culturally. It brings us closer
together. It once more reminds us that we share more in common than we
truly differ from one another, and having that seminal 'common ground'
from which to begin any dialogue is refreshing.
THE DEFLOWERING OF EVA VAN END amps it up another notch. While presenting the struggles of the young, it also explores those of the young-at-heart the parents, who all too often get overlooked in their development with the family because (let's face it) their challenges tend to be less inviting, less inspiring, and decidedly less glamorous.
Veit (played with cleverly nuanced awareness and equal detachment by a sparkly Rafael Gariesen) is a German foreign exchange student who comes to live with a Dutch family, all for the purpose of learning better English. Eva (Vivian Dierickx in a breakout performance) is the young girl who serves as his sponsor, and she's immediately smitten with his charms, looks, and attitude. Much to her confusion, Veit manages to equally affect the various members of her family, accidentally forcing them to tear down the barriers of their ordered existence only to find something much different hiding beneath.
As the title suggests, his DEFLOWERING is all about transition. Yet rather than be an individual experience this one ends up being far more orgiastic in nature. Everyone is affected by Veit, even those truly not vying for his attention. The boys at school want to be just like him, and the girls can't take their eyes of him. Back at home, father Evert (Ton Kas) recognizes there are souls beyond the homefront who might be needing whatever he can give while mother Etty (a frumpily luminous Jacqueline Blom) discovers a deficiency in her ability to find personal peace. As for the brothers? Erwin (Tomer Pawlicki) suddenly uncovers a repressed homosexuality, and Manuel (Abe Dijkman) finds himself obsessed with attaining 'trophies' from all his exploits, carnal or otherwise.
Anne Barnhoorn's smart script uses Veit as a mirror: he's held up over each of these various characters, and only under his influence can each of them see what they're missing a father without a child to raise, a mother struggling with identity, and so on and so forth. Eva's shortcomings, however, end up getting scant attention texturally in spite of having her name in the title! but that's largely because her struggle is the easiest identified, even from the outset. In early scenes, she's shown sitting at the dinner table; life is going on all around her mom, dad, and the boys are carrying a variety of mixed conversations with one another; and yet no one gives her a second look or listens to what she says. At school, she can only draw the attention of the equally outcast members of pubescent society. She slumps her shoulders; she wears t-shirts adorned with curiously obtuse designs; and she doesn't even try to fit in any longer. Director Ten Horn stages it all brilliantly, and he captures it with some dazzling camera trickery that'll no doubt inspire those who marvel in all the details. And, also as the title promises, she gets her deflowering.
What does it get her?
Her changes aren't nearly as drastic as those of her family, and perhaps that's precisely the message implied through all of this. Everyone is transformed in some way, big or small, by Veit's powers over them. Eva's afforded a universe of personal knowledge symbolized by the glow-in-the-dark ceiling star that lands on her forehead the moment her German suitor climaxes while the rest of her blood relations are left to sort through the open baggage of their psychological comeuppances good or bad. For the most part, they're good, but when you hear Manuel now properly named 'Emanual' promise that things will go back to normal once Veit is gone, you'll know like I did that the order of things has changed.
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. Much like anyone's first deflowering, THE DEFLOWERING OF EVA VAN END ain't perfect, but it's still a delightfully dark and wryly comic mix of what happens when the socially imperfect collide head on with the socially perfect. The performances are terrific in particular, Vivian Dierickx captures the general cluelessness and cultural awkwardness of being still trapped with a young mind in a body starting to change (from impulses as well as family or peer pressures) and the script, while lacking in depth, makes up for it in a myriad of smaller moments that gives balance to one of the smartest ensembles I've seen in quite some time. Be warned: it has a psychologically dark moment that might disturb some viewers (involving a member of the Animal Kingdom), but once the shock wears off it'll all make more sense.
In the interests of fairness, I'm pleased to disclose that the fine folks at Film Movement provided me with a DVD copy of THE DEFLOWERING OF EVA VAN END by request for the expressed purposes of completing this review.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Whaddayaknow, a good Dutch movie! Not surprisingly, considering director Michiel ten Horn used the fabulous work and style of Wes Anderson for inspiration, creating a definite Dutch counterpart of that particular auteur's work. All the typical Anderson ingredients are there (except for Bill Murray), including wacky characters, colourful visuals, dysfunctional family drama and a funky soundtrack. And decent writing of course. The Van End family members have a hard time connecting to one another and lead their own little lives in their own silly little worlds, until daughter Eva takes home a German foreign exchange student. The boy turns out to be the perfect human being, an angelic blond persona with great empathy for the whole world, whose healthy, altruistic life style soon creates havoc at his guest home as the whole family reacts differently to his presence and their natural balance is severely upset, exposing a few dirty family secrets in the process. And yes, Eva gets her cherry popped as the title indicates, though not in the way you would first expect. Solid acting, especially for Dutch actors, though of course young Austrian actor Rafael Gareisen leaves the greatest impression. The movie leaves ample room for both genuinely heartfelt drama and funny jokes and situations, some surprisingly edgy and politically incorrect. Ten Horn does a fine job of translating Anderson to a Dutch setting (unconsciouslyly or not, but it seems utterly unlikely he has never heard of his American inspiration), making the movie look distinctly Dutch but not feeling like any other Dutch film, all for the better. It's a real shame Dutch audiences prefer to watch crap like Verliefd op Ibiza and Het Bombardement over little gems like this, but it's good to know not all hope is lost for Dutch cinema thanks to talented directors like Ten Horn inspired by all the right people.
A refreshingly humorous, insightful and sensitive film from the
Netherlands from director Michael ten Horn who also wrote this
contemporary story with Anne Barn Hoorn lights up the screen with vivid
color, funky music, a story with many twists and a groups of excellent
actors. It is a film hat deserves a wide audience because it addresses
issues usually avoided in honest filmmaking.
The van End family is prototypically dysfunctional, having a tough time connecting to one another, leading their own little lives in their own silly little worlds. The father Evert (Ton Kas) works in a factory that makes a hot dog appearing food piece: once a year there is an eating contest and for the past few years his son Manuel (Abe Dijkman) has won the trophy for eating the most (otherwise Manuel is a trouble maker who spends his hours smoking dope). The mother Etty (Jacqueline Blom) is discontent with the family in general and feeling ignored by her husband who is caught up in preparing their 25th wedding anniversary party. The oldest son Erwin (Tomer Pawlicki) has severe facial acne but is obsessed with an upcoming marriage to an Indian girl Mardou (Anandi Gall), selecting paint colors and other distractions to avoid intimate contact with his fiancé. That leaves the only daughter, Eva (Vivian Dierickx), an overweight unpopular misfit whose best friend is her bunny rabbit and who announces to her family (though they ignore her) that she is participating in a school project to bring German exchange students to learn English by living with Dutch families. The German lad Veit (handsome and talented 19 year old Rafael Gareisen) arrives and is polite, thoughtful, caring, gentle, organized, spiritually centered, who also loves to party and be a proper house guest. The film's story is how Veit changes everyone in this family: introducing Evert to his little African friend Ngiri (Nicanor Zinga) over Skype and Evert elects to help the poverty stricken lad by sending money; introducing Etty to meditation that allows Etty to loses her pent up anger and sadness; Introducing Erwin to his sexuality (very subtly); and equally subtly deflowering the ugly chubby pathetic and very needy Eva. The result of Veit's 2 week stay dramatically changes this family, outing secrets that have been hurtful and making them care for each other in a normal and healthy, loving fashion.
It all comes together with many more sidebars of action that emphasize the fragility of each of the characters. Yes, it has humorous moments, but the overall message is a tender one and is very ell presented. In Dutch and English with subtitles.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I do normally like black comedies if they're done well, but it looks
like I'm in the minority here as I felt this Dutch film really missed
the mark. I imagine in these type of movies it's how the characters and
story come across to the viewer. To me, the film seemed more sad,
mean-spirited, cruel, and gross than funny.
The plot revolves around the visit of a German exchange student Veit (Rafael Gareisen) to the Dutch van End family for two weeks, where he will try and improve his English skills. He's an Adonis-like, outgoing, seemingly perfect young man who was invited by Eva van End (Vivian Dierickx), the youngest in the family, to stay at their home.
Eva is the polar opposite of Veit being excruciatingly shy and withdrawn, and is regarded as a complete misfit by her classmates. The key to the movie is the guru-like effect Veit has on each of the van End family members.
While I found some laughs in the movie, I was never able to connect with the characters here or the overall intended humor.
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