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(Review originally written at 6 October 2007)

It's not a movie with many spoken lines in it. After all the two main characters hardly speak the same language. The movie allows its images to mostly tell the entire story. I sort of always like this, since after all that's also how movies were intended to be in the first place. The great camera-work and compositions of course help with this. It also makes the movie a slow going one but this works beautiful and effective for the movie its story and storytelling. Still, because the movie is rather short, it tends to rush things a little, especially toward the end. It's also the reason why the movie ends sort of on a false note.

This movie is a real character movie. Almost the entire movie focuses purely on just the two main characters. The characters don't explain anything to each other about how and what. They just accept things as they are and don't look back, even though the both of them, as implied, had issues in the past. They are definitely not at love at first but they also most certainly don't hate each other. They slowly and steadily grow- and open up toward each other and also learn from each other, in many different ways. It doesn't make this movie 'just' another unusual love-story but something that goes deeper and therefor also gets more effectively shown on the screen.

The movie gives a good portrayal of the farm life and the empty flat real peaceful nature. I think it's a real missed opportunity from Dutch film-makers to not shoot more movies there. It's cheap to make, also since you don't have to close down any roads or shops or stuff like that and it's of course beautiful looking, which really gives the movie a lot of atmosphere without having to manipulate or set up anything. And abroad, people always seem to like these type of movies and these movies, with this kind of atmosphere, have a fair chance at the international market and festivals. After all, this movie even received a Golden Globe nomination for best foreign film.

I never thought I would hear an Ede Staal song in a Dutch, or just any movie. Ede Staal and his music are unmistakably connected to the entire province of Groningen. His songs are often about the province and they perfectly capture the life, feeling and atmosphere of the province. So, one of his most famous songs 't Hogelaand' totally fits within the movie, captures its atmosphere and what it tries to tell.

Jaap Spijkers is a good actor, although I admit that he is a better actor now then he used to be 10 years ago, at the time of this movie. Or perhaps it's just that he isn't really the sort of actor for the leading type of roles. Same goes for Monic Hendrickx by the way, who at the time still was a rookie in the movie business. He did a fairly good job with his accent, although people who are actually not from Groningen but play a Groninger character always tend to make the accent sound way too thick.

The movie is about some relevant issues, such as Polish woman being forced to work in the prostitution in Western countries, the hard financial situation and time for Dutch farmers and the slinking population, amount farms and shops in the rural areas.

The movie is currently getting an Australian treatment as well, named "Unfinished Sky", again with Monic Hendrickx in the same role. The story will probably work the same but will the atmosphere as well? Doubtful, which is a negative thing, since it mostly was the atmosphere that carried the movie and almost entirely told the movie its story and emotions.

A really great and also certainly unique and a one of a kind movie. The Australian version won't change that.

8/10

About Frank Veenstra

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