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Writer Frans and his favorite character J.Kessels go to the Hamburg Reeperbahn to return a philandering crook to his wife and to finally fulfill Frans' pre-masturbatory sexual dreams.


Erik de Bruyn


Jan Eilander, P.F. Thomése (novel)
4 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »


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Credited cast:
Fedja van Huêt ... Frans
Frank Lammers ... Kessels
Ruben van der Meer ... Boontje
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Annick Christiaens ... Brigit
Erik de Bruyn ... Uitgever
Oona de Clercq Oona de Clercq ... Brommermeisje
Bart de Graauw Bart de Graauw ... Klant in Snackbar
Bert Huysentruyt Bert Huysentruyt ... Pa de Braaij
Rick Kuitems Rick Kuitems ... Goalkeeper
Marc Lauwrys Marc Lauwrys ... Bertje
Livia Matthes ... Sabine
Romi van Renterghem Romi van Renterghem ... Jonge Brigit / Silleke
Vasco Wermer Vasco Wermer ... Kleine Fransje
Ben Zuydwijk ... Boxer


J.KESSELS is both a hilarious road movie and a bittersweet trip down memory lane, a crazy ride in a flame-adorned Plymouth Gold Duster from provincial Holland to Hamburg's Reeperbahn and back. And a hallucinatory trip through the mind of an author, who no longer knows if his novel is a product of his own imagination, or if he is actually living it. The lead character is Kessels, a chain smoking tough guy with a heart of gold. Kessels and Frans are ageing youngsters who like nothing better than to consume nicotine, beer and country & western music. However, in Frans' novels Kessels and he are fearless crime fighters: heroes even, but the world around them is unaware of it. Heroes who create a flurry of misunderstanding at every step. Frans accepts the assignment for Kessels and him to kidnap a philandering criminal in Hamburg and return him to his wife, because the caller is the younger brother of BB, or Brigitte, once the focus of little Frans' prepubescent sexual dreams and awakening...

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Release Date:

1 October 2015 (Netherlands) See more »

Also Known As:

Road Duster See more »

Filming Locations:

Netherlands See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend:

€21,210 (Netherlands), 4 October 2015, Limited Release
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

CTM LEV Pictures, Czar See more »
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Technical Specs


See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


In February 2017, 'J. Kessels' was a recipient of the Outstanding Achievement Award at Narrative Features category in Calcutta International Cult Film Festival, in India. See more »


References Casablanca (1942) See more »

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User Reviews

No Coen nor van Warmerdam
5 February 2018 | by Field78See all my reviews

J. Kessels is described as a dry-witted, surreal and absurdistic road movie. After having seen it, I find it a qualification that is quite fitting. However, I have to add that this is not a hallmark for quality or a recommendation per se.

In its current form, the movie seems a bit like a crossbreed between a Joel & Ethan Coen and an Alex van Warmerdam picture. These filmmakers are well-known for creating cinematic universes that are governed by their own absurd logic, as well as their love for extremely deadpan humor. I am not a fan of van Warmerdam, but I will always line up for a new Coen movie. But J. Kessels, unfortunately, doesn't even get close to one of their lesser films.

I can't help but think what Joel & Ethan would have done with this weird premise of an author who joins his own creation (or perhaps the man inspiring his writing) on a trip in the hopes of seeing his childhood crush again, because the current makers lack the qualities to make this crazy gimmick work. After a very original opening credits sequence, the story starts to wander aimlessly, with the characters getting from one bizarre situation to the next, but what is going on and how they get there is hardly ever clear. The script simply leaves out too many details, and some characters (especially Ruben van der Meer) use accents that make them nearly unintelligible (where are the subtitles when you need them?). The actors get to say absurd oneliners that are meant to be quotable, but the dialogue is too succint to make their conversations meaningful or the plot even vaguely clear.

This would be less of a problem if the individual scenes were actually funny at all, but most of the situations fall completely flat and have no comedic pay-off whatsoever. Only a couple of scenes got an uneasy smile from me, but the timing of the rest is way off and the actors play it way too straight. I had not expected much else from Fedja van de Huêt who always plays the straight man, but not using Frank Lammers to his full comedic potential is just a waste of talent.

What kept my attention, however, is the beautiful way that the movie is shot. The production design, cinematography and editing are all of high quality. A special mention for the dancing scene inside the brothel; I have no idea how the story got there, but it looked great and perfectly choreographed.

In short, I find this movie just being weird for the sake of weird, and as such, it is far from the inspired lunacy that we have come to know from the Coens or even Wes Anderson. If you want to see a Dutch movie with a bizarre story that works out fine, go and watch Black Out (look for tt2114358 here on IMDb). Although that film was more a Guy Ritchie-type crime-comedy, it perfectly combined a zany plot and outlandish characters with good humor and actors who are used to their strengths. Now can the Coen brothers please buy the rights of J. Kessels and work their magic over it?

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