Den Helder (TV Short 2008) Poster

(2008 TV Short)

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8/10
Brothers at a crossroads
guy-bellinger3 September 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Den Helder is the name of the northernmost town in Holland. There is nothing special about the place, except perhaps a curious red lighthouse. Nothing remarkable either about the family the film centers around, except that the two sons, now grown ups, are reunited after a long period of time. Maarten and Emiel are going to be separated again though since, just after the elder, Emiel, has been released from prison, Maarten is about to go for a six-month mission in Lebanon as a Marine.

During this time lapse the two brothers will confront each other, will discover who they really are and come to terms with themselves, not without tragedy setting in.

By choosing just another town as a setting for his short film, Joris Van Nies brings additional focus to this remarkable character study. The viewer is never distracted by anything else but the human relationships. Nor by any weird camera angles or sound effects of any kind. And although there is not much action (except in the last minutes) the viewer is gripped by the tension that pits the two brothers against each other, upset by Emiel's threatening attitude, moved by Maarten's uneasy attempt to declare his homosexual attraction to his friend, shocked by the final explosion of violence and more or less relieved by the final catharsis.

The key factor in the success of 'Den Helder' lies in the perfect choice of the two leading actors. Robert Hoog is more than just adequate as Maarten and Ward Weemhoof is amazing as Emiel. The very second you meet Weemhoff you do not doubt that he is an inmate, that he has not been in jail for nothing and that he can go mad any moment. At the same time he makes you feel that deep inside himself this wild one is a broken man, that he has suffered a lot for being unable to control his emotions. This young actor has a sensational presence and I would not be surprised if he became a star. He has all the qualities for that.

'Den Helder' is an excellent short which does not try to impress but cuts through to the bone. It deserves to be seen: you can find it the 'Selected Dutch Shots 2008' DVD.
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