After both signing an agreement with a company that offers to end their lives when they least expect it, a dejected millionaire and a disheartened young woman fall in love and have to find a way to get out of their binding contracts.
A slaughterhouse worker appears to be romantically involved with his boss's wife. They plan to leave the country together, but at the airport she waits for him in vain. Slowly but surely ... See full summary »
Mike van Diem
Maeve van der Steen,
Coen van Vrijberghe de Coningh
Medical student Irena discovers she has the ability to see into people's bodies, including their bones, bloodstreams, organs, and more. It isn't long before she's made an offer she can't ... See full summary »
Mike van Diem
Eline Van der Velden,
A ruthless court bailiff is found dead, and a young lawyer is the prime suspect. Told in a series of flashbacks, Jacob Katadreuffe tells the tale leading to the events of his final ... See full summary »
Karen (32) and Michel (36) move with their daughter to an exclusive residential area. She soon finds a new close circle of friends: the women of the Dinner Club, and their husbands. But ... See full summary »
Robert Jan Westdijk
Bracha van Doesburgh,
An eccentric multimillionaire signs an agreement to have his life ended. While selecting his coffin he meets a young woman who has signed up for the same arrangement. Trouble ensues when the couple falls in love and wishes to get out of the contract.Written by
This movie is based on a Dutch short story by Belcampo that director Mike van Diem wanted to adapt for years after winning a Best Foreign Picture Academy Award for Character (1997). It was initially considered for production in the USA, with Scarlett Johansson showing interest in playing the female lead. However, van Diem wasn't convinced that Johansen could do comedy and couldn't come to an agreement with the intended producer, so he took the project back to his native country, the Netherlands. See more »
Idiosyncratic, dark, Wes-ish return to form by Van Diem
"De Surprise" marks the long-awaited return of Mike van Diem (of 1997 "Karakter" acclaim). I had no idea what to expect, but wasn't disappointed: it's a clever, self-written, self-produced dark comedy, that surprises with its off-kilter locations, developments and characters.
Starting with a funeral and quickly progressing to boy-meets-girl, the setup is of the well-traveled romcom variety, but the story heads for loftier territories after this and keeps us engaged throughout. Van Koningsbrugge and Verbaan acquit themselves well in parts that require a more understated, highbrow approach than their usual brand of comedy, and - essential for this genre - I rooted for them all the way through.
What kind of bugs me, though: the main characters in "De Surprise" exhibit a Wes Anderson-ish formal approach to emotions, which, combined with a distinct Wes Anderson-ish quirky world view, setting and storyline, almost made me feel like I was watching a WA-movie, only one without Wes' exceptional talents for art direction and editing.
This is not to say "De Surprise" lacks originality: but the day after, it did impress me more as a tight exercise in style than a profound exercise in storytelling - quite unlike the superior "Karakter". It does re-establish Van Diem as an independent, original filmmaker, and here's hoping he'll stick to cinema the upcoming decade.
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