The film tells the love story between Hans (Barry Atsma) and Margje (Noortje Herlaar) - sweethearts since school. Hans grows up in a strict religious environment, with a brutal father. He ...
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The film tells the love story between Hans (Barry Atsma) and Margje (Noortje Herlaar) - sweethearts since school. Hans grows up in a strict religious environment, with a brutal father. He runs away from home at a young age and studies horticulture. After World War II, he starts a nursery in a village in the province of Gelderland. At first, he and Margje enjoy a happy family life and boundless love for one another. They also experience problems, however, with keeping the business going. One day, Hans meets Jozef Mieras (Marcel Hensema), who talks to him about God. After Hans hears God's voice in a vision, he becomes drawn ever deeper into his faith - a faith that will now determine the course of his life, and that of his family. The rifts between the different family members become greater and greater until Hans is completely in the grip of the religious sect. Yet Margje's unconditional love for him survives, in spite of all.
Though I am not religious anymore and have not visited a Dutch Reformed church in a decade or so, I retained enough knowledge about my former faith to be very annoyed by this movie. It gets so many details so blatantly wrong, that it's clearly made by people who have never seen a church from the inside, and is aimed at non- believers only.
As such, it fails to deliver on its premise of painting a portrait of the very devoutly Christian Dutch 'gereformeerden.' At one point a child actor sings one of the most famous psalms in the Dutch Calvinist churches, but completely, totally, screws up the melody; more than enough to not be able to suspend one's disbelief any longer. Just another example of shoddy research: the actors read Bible verses in the old 17th century translation, but never do this in the singy, nearly Muslim-like way all Reformed people do it.
Additionally, the movie appears to have had a budget of about $3.50. Its OST consists of a 10 second loop of orchestral music which blatantly rips off Michael Kamen's Band of Brothers soundtrack, and its camera work is so shoddy you keep thinking they just couldn't be bothered to do any retakes.
Also, the casting is horrible: several actors are either just really bad, or talk in Brabantian (southern Dutch) accents while no Reformed person in the history of Calvinism would ever have talked in such an accent (the Bible Belt is north from Brabant). Then, there are numerous anachronisms: for example, music that is supposed to sound like mid- 60s Beatlemania rock (as the scene is set in 1965) actually sounds like mid-50s Buddy Holly-rock 'n roll. Lastly, the director chose to end a movie about the most die hard Amish-like hardcore Christians you can find on the planet, by playing an evangelical 'hallelujah!' song while the credits roll. Appalling and laughable.
All in all, a movie to avoid, except if you want to waste two hours of your life on a totally incorrect and sloppy portrayal of zealous Dutch Christians. If you réally want to spend two hours on getting to know the Reformed Church, they'll gladly show you for free twice every Sunday at a location near you (though I'd suggest you stay in bed instead to Netflix and chill).
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