Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB. The Netherlands/Belgium, 1997. First Floor Features, Almerica Film. Screenplay by Mike Van Diem, Laurens Geels, Ruud van Megen, based on the short story Dreverhaven en Katadreuffe and the novel Karakter by Ferdinand Bordewijk. Cinematography by Rogier Stoffers. Produced by Laurens Geels. Music by Paleis van Boem. Production Design by Rikke Jelier, Alfred Schaaf. Costume Design by Jany Temime. Film Editing by Jessica de Koning. Academy Awards 1997. Toronto International Film Festival 1997.
Imagine Dickens filmed by Steven Spielberg and starring Buster Keaton and you have this sumptuous Dutch tale that took home the Academy Award for Best Foreign-Language Film. The story is of a young man raised illegitimately in Amsterdam who grows up to become a law clerk in a prestigious law firm, only to have his success threatened by his being suspected in the murder of his estranged father. Not as fascinating as it wants to be, and certainly not as entertaining, but the scene where Jan Decleir ignores solders barricading a neighbourhood and enters it to evict a family who owes him money is worth the price of admission. Director Mike Van Diem’s speech at the Academy Awards had more life and vigour to it than his film does.