On 23 May 2010, 21-year-old Tonio van der Heijden (played by Chris Peters) was hit by a car and taken in a critical condition to hospital, where he died. A tragic event that drastically changed the lives of his parents (played by Pierre Bokma and Rifka Lodeizen), who watched their only son pass away in intensive care. Reminded of his life by everything around and inside them, Tonio's life left a legacy of phantom pain for his parents who mourn, and struggle to prevent their own lives from being dragged into a downward spiral of sorrow. A.F. Th. van der Heijden based his novel TONIO (de Bezige Bij) on the tragic accident that took the life of his only son. The book won the Libris Prize and the NS Publieksprijs (Public Award), and its author the prestigious P.C. Hooft Award. Over 200,000 copies of the book have been sold to date.
Based on the autobiographical novel by Dutch writer A.F. Th. van der Heijden, which was released exactly a year after the death of his son Tonio in 2010. Actor Pierre Bokma's character Adri is based on the writer (down to the first name and hairstyle), and van der Heijden's real-life wife is also called Mirjam (played by Rifka Lodeizen). See more »
When Adrie and Mir are in the car to and from the hospital, the display in the dashboard of the car clearly shows '04.08.2015' which is probably the day the shooting was done, as the story is situated on May 23, 2010 (the day Tonio dies). See more »
This movie will remind you of Nanni Moretti's " La stanza del figlio" (aka the son's room", 2001) ;both movies deal with the same tragedy ;there are many similarities between them: the father's guilty feeling,the desire to meet their late son's (female) friend -I would not say "girlfriend"-.
Like the Italian movie,I would recommend this Dutch work ,but only for people with a strong heart :who can get over such a pain,the death of an only child,age 20?
Both actors are excellent and make us feel their distress ;the tragedy happens in a Jewish family (the grandma's despair in the cemetery may hint at the horrors of WW2) but it's universal ;religion does not seem to help the unfortunate parents anyway .
Blending masterfully present and past ,the woman director tells about the father's pride to have a son:he wrote a diary about his son's life and he intended to give it to him on his eighteenth birthday -"and I did not even do it!-
Feeling guilt , he wonders whether he did what he had to do for him ,if his work as a writer (the distraught grandma tells him that he lives in an imaginary world,although his books deal with true stories)took too much of his time at his son's expense (one scene in a bookshop shows father signing his books where besides him,his boy is drawing).
The scenes in the hospital are filmed with an admirable sense of propriety ,sparing of gestures and words ,avoiding any pathos.
The scene which,IMHO,climaxes the movie, in the one when the father is watching the recorded scene in slow motion and cries: "don't go!don't move forward!" ;then his wild ride on a bike on the fateful street.
A powerful work ,in which the director's restraint is to be praised.
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