Netherlands, 1938. In a small town in the province of North Brabant called Oss, Johanna wants to change her life and quit the criminal gangs of the town. The harder she tries, the more she is involved.
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In the 1930's the Brabant (southern province of the Netherlands) city of Oss was caught up in a crime wave. Even the military police was sent from the north to free the city from the terror regime of the gang of Oss. When they discover sex crimes and fraud even amongst the local clerics and prominent members of the community, the conflict escalates between the catholic south and protestant north which eventually leads to the fall of the 'Colijn' administration, the last operating pre-war administration. During this a young woman Johanna wants to escape from the web of crime that surrounds her. The harder she tries the more she gets stuck in fraud, prostitution, manslaughter and even murder.
Oss is a city with a violent past, a city which has seen numerous changes both on industrial, criminal and civilized levels. These changes were seen all over the Netherlands, but for that period of time no example was so striking or extreme like it was in Oss.
André van Duren is a case of good Dutch film-maker which has lots of quality and not too much work. He has proved his skill with historical portraits in the past and De Bende van Oss is one of the few successful attempt to portray the region of Oss in that period. Cleverly shot in Ravenstein, Herpen, Keent and Oss itself, with the exception of some studio work, all feels quite authentic.
The cast is mostly put together from Brabanders (the province in which Oss lies) and this works well enough. Of course, they cannot speak with the right dialect for the film should be understood all over the Netherlands, but that doesn't bother much. The acting balanced between realistic and over the top.
This is the case with the entire film. It's brought with realism but there are many grotesque elements present. Somehow the film manages to find a delicate balance between those two. The soundtrack by Paleis van Boem works nice and gives it a special touch.
There are some problems with the film, like the gangleader is the least scary and convincing of the entire gang and he is more clown than Capone at times (not in a good way) but the rest of the cast carries him well enough so you won't really be bothered by it.
This film did cost about 3,5 mil euros which is a large budget for the Netherlands. If you think they transformed and built a convincing world with that money on par with 50+ mil Hollywood productions I can't help to wonder how we in our humble country manage to do it sometimes.
A good film, sometimes a little unsolid and at times plain great with many human touches, this is a film of which the Dutch people can be proud and will largely entertain themselves with.
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