Handsome Dutchman Stijn is the star of an advertising agency with his buddy Frenk and a hot womanizer. The boys start their own agency and Stijn marries colleague Carmen, who accepts his incurable greed for truly meaningless one-night-stands. Even fatherhood and a move to the boring country go well, until Carmen gets breast cancer. Now their lives are turned upside-down, maybe wrecked.Written by
Talented, attractive players and an extraordinary script create a masterpiece.
European film companies willingly tackle subjects that no "self- respecting" U.S. film company would touch, probably for fear of alienating their market. Stricken is such a film. This Dutch offering could have only been produced in The Netherlands or Belgium and stars the inimitable Carice van Houten opposite the very capable Barry Atsma.
Convincing dialog, superlative acting, cinematography and directing, with a story line that will provoke thought and move you, this is not light fare, but a drama that offers real substance, raises valid questions and presents people as real people. The characters aren't perfect, aren't cookie cutter "heroes" or "villains," but possess flaws as well as virtues. The story line is multi-level and presents a facet of life in the Low Countries that has yet to be dealt with in our U.S. culture.
Food for the brain, possibly food for the soul (depending upon one's view of the issues), Stricken should be considered must viewing for anyone who looks to movies for more than light entertainment.
You may not agree with the moral decisions in the movie--by any of the characters--but the decision of Carmen (van Houten) is one that many will find understandable. It is her decision and the lifestyle choices of her and Stijn (Atsma) which, along with the events leading to her decision which create the drama, the tension and social/moral dilemmas.
I consider this to be one of the premier movies to come from Europe in the last decade. Few will consider it a peaceful film, almost no one could call it a "feel good" or happy movie, but it offers a view that some might find ultimately comforting.
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