(Review originally written at 1 October 2008)

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I was profoundly impressed with this Oscar winning Dutch movie. It features a strong and greatly compelling story, strong characters, fine acting, great production values and whatever more. A true masterpiece in my book!

It's mostly a story and character driven movie. This might sound boring to some but let me tell you that "Karakter" is anything from boring, unlike most other Dutch productions within the same genre. It's a real exciting psychological thriller, without really featuring any action or much dialog in it. Mike van Diem does an amazing job telling the movie its story. He just doesn't only did a great job with its story but also with the movie its look and atmosphere and he got the best out of the actors.

The movie is also really made by it's acting. The acting was surprisingly great within the entire movie, which already is a big accomplishment for any Dutch production. Fedja van Huêt, despite his young age, carries the movie really well and he has probably already played the role out of his career in this movie, even though his career obviously isn't over yet. Same goes for Jan Decleir. He plays one of the most complicated and memorable villain role out of movie history, I kid you not. Even though he is not the type of movie villain who kills or uses violence, he is more ruthless in the way his personality is and how he subtly moves around and is important throughout the movie, by giving his son a hard accomplishing anything in life. An even bigger accomplishment from Decleir when considering how few lines he actually has throughout the movie. Yeah it might sound weird but he reminded me a lot of Darth Vader from the Star Wars movies. He's just as cold and ruthless, doesn't show any emotions, walks around with a long cape and in the end his character seeks redemption with his son.

The movie is set in the the 1920's Rotterdam. The movie has a nice impressive historical look over it and does an amazing job reconstructing Rotterdam of the 1920's, even though the movie didn't got filmed in Rotterdam itself, which isn't anything too surprising considering Rotterdam got bombed heavily during WW II and almost all of the old city heart is completely gone now days and the city is filled with modern buildings and skyscrapers now days. Normally it's very small scaled and perhaps even a bit embarrassing to look at a Dutch movie that tries to recreate a different much older time period. Mostly they'll trow one old car in a sequences, with 10 people walking around in old clothes and that's it. But "Karakter" is however very detailed with its look and overall atmosphere.

Besides the movie its look and overall cinematography and directing I also really liked the movie its editing, which kept the movie going at all times. It uses some nice cutting tricks to achieve this and it really helps to make this movie an exciting one to watch.

It's a movie that sucks you right in its story and doesn't ever let you go. You'll forget everything around you and won't be able to get your eyes of the screen, or even blink for that matter. The movie doesn't feature a story I would normally like within a movie, especially not from a Dutch movie but "Karakter" just does basically everything right to grab you and suck you right into it. An haunting, beautiful, impressive movie, that you'll won't easily forget.


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About Frank Veenstra

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