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(Review originally written at 20 November 2006)

Calling this movie one of the best Dutch in recent years is perhaps not enough. It certainly deserves a spot among the best Dutch movies of all time as well!

If I had to compare this movie to any other, I would say that this movie is the Dutch "Glengarry Glen Ross". It has only powerhouse actors in it, the movie doesn't just have one main character, it follows multiple story lines from all the different characters and it has an excellent written story. Don't let the fact that this is just a 'made for TV' movie scare you of. The only reason the movie didn't got a theatrical release is because Dutch cinema in general is not very popular by the main stream audience and besides movies like this just don't do well in Dutch cinema's, regardless of the language spoken. A shame because that also in a way means that not too often Dutch movies like "Cloaca" will ever be made and released. This movie however truly screams for more.

The story at first starts of rather simple but just like in real life things are more complicated than they at first seem. Every character in the movie has problem(s) on their own and the one thing that connects everything is their friendship. The four old college buddies, now in their forties, try to help each other but have to cope with their own difficulties as well. By helping each other out they discover the true meaning of friendship and start evaluation the way their lives are progressing thus far and where things went wrong for them and they let the 'good old times' revive as well. It's a real character movie and a movie like this always requires some extremely good actors. "Cloaca" really has this. It makes the movie, the story and the situations in this all feel very real and understandable.

"Cloaca" has the best acting you'll probably ever see in a Dutch movie. All of the actors in this movie are well taught and established actors, who appear mostly on the stage. It's too bad that Dutch movies not too often give the chance to let actors like this shine on the silver screen. Ductch cinema doesn't often offer roles like these to actors of this caliber. Pierre Bokma, Gijs Scholten van Aschat and Pierre Bokma are all probably the best Dutch actors at the moment. It also definitely helps the movie that the three of them are real life friends and went to college together (along with the movie its director Willem van de Sande Bakhuyzen), it definitely shows on screen, since they all have such a great chemistry and share some great anticipation and reaction with each other. It lifts their performances to an even higher level and makes the timing spot on.

The movie is deliberately kept low key. No fancy tricks are used and the movie mostly relies on telling its story purely through its characters. It's based on a stage play by Maria Goos, which starred for most part the same actors that also appear in this movie. It means that the movie also feels 'stagey' at times, with its characters and dialog. This doesn't always work out well in movies but there are exceptions and when there are exceptions, they are always brilliant ones. "Cloaca" is a wonderful example of this. It's a real shame by the way that the British Kevin Spacey stage play version wasn't an huge success.

The movie is extremely well directed by Willem van de Sande Bakhuyzen. Of course the storytelling is slow but van de Sande Bakhuyzen's directing keeps the pace always high and the movie interesting. The movie also has some beautiful cinematography and a suiting musical score. A real lost for Dutch cinema, that Willem van de Sande Bakhuyzen died in 2005 of cancer. He made the best movies in his last years and I would had definitely been interested in seeing more movies of him, definitely if they were like "Cloaca".

10/10

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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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