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This has always been a movie I expected to like but never one I expected to love. I don't know, the movie always seemed a bit too low-budget and narrow with its story, characters and settings and overdone with its drama and action. Dutch movies tend to be told a but clumsily at times, especially when its also involving some action. Most Dutch film-makers really don't know how to handle action but luckily Martin Koolhoven isn't a director who suffers from this and he also really got almost all of the other stuff right as well.

It's really one great and slick looking movie. It has got a great visual style, that it manages to maintain throughout its entire running time. Looking at this movie you really wouldn't think that it only cost a few millions to make, which really isn't a lot of money in the movie business, not even for a Dutch movie of this size and caliber. They really did an excellent job with its budget and besides its visual look, it also convincingly takes you back to 1945 wartime- and winter struck Holland. Director Martin Koolhoven even subtly managed to put in his love for spaghetti westerns in this movie (which is probably also the reason why it stars Dan van Husen in it) with some of the sequences and camera-work, without it being obvious or distracting for the casual viewer.

And the movie does really feature some great camera-work by Guido van Gennep, that doesn't only just capture the mood and atmosphere of the movie well but also makes the movie more dynamic with its movements and set-up. Same can be said for the nimble editing by Job ter Burg, which doesn't prevent the movie from having some pacing issues in it though.

But guess you could really 'blame' the fact that this movie is based on a novel for that. The story doesn't always flow well or moves along fast enough and it has some characters that more or less get neglected, as the movie moves along. This is all because it's based on a popular and well known novel by Jan Terlouw, which is 164 pages long and of course features way too much stuff to all effectively put into one movie. This is something basically all movies based off on novels suffer from, so you can't really blame the film-makers, though I still wished they would had treated some of its characters better and more interestingly. Such as for instance the Schafter and Auer characters, that had far more potential in them and could had really added something more to the story, its themes and the depth of it all.

But that are about the only things that could had potentially made this movie an even better one, fore it does basically everything else right.

It's not just a typical Dutch movie that is involving WW II. It's more one that is somewhere between a serious and heavy drama as well as a tense and engrossing one, in a more thriller kind of way. What the movie also does well is appealing to both a younger and older crowd. This isn't specifically just a movie kids or adults, it's one for all ages.

But the movie still could not had worked out as well as it did, if it weren't for its cast. For this movie it was very important that they had a good young main lead in it and with Martijn Lakemeier they really succeeded with this. But basically everyone's performance in this movie is real good. It also features some big and well known names in it, most notably Yorick van Wageningen. Though it needs to be said that he has been working and living in the United States for so long now, that he has actually grown a thick accent when speaking Dutch. Luckily it doesn't ever get that bad or too distracting and people who don't speak or understand Dutch will not be bothered by this at all of course.

This (almost Oscar nominated) movie surpassed my expectations really!

8/10

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About Frank Veenstra

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