Review: Alberta (2016)

Alberta (2016)

Directed by: Eddy Terstall, Erik Wuensch | 96 minutes | comedy, drama | Actors: Jamie Grant, Daniël Boissevain, Eva Duijvestein, Marnie Baumer, Chip Bray, Poal Cairo, Jamie Grant, Bill Monsour, Roelant Radier, Lee M. Ross, Cherise Silvestri, Vastert van Aardenne, Marvin Wan

Director Eddy Terstall has mainly found the subjects for his films abroad in recent years. By placing people, in this case our compatriots, in an unusual situation, they will have to open up to adapt to their environment. Or they shut down, resulting in clashes and dissatisfaction. In short, the behavior of the Dutchman is put under a magnifying glass. In addition, and Terstall succeeds quite well at that, characters are always on the move. The journey they take is not only physical, but also mental. Growth is clearly visible. Terstall’s latest, again in collaboration with Erik Wünsch, is also set outside our national borders: Alberta, Canada, forms the setting for the film.

The notion of movement comes to life visually right away in the first scene. From the side window of a car, the Canadian forests and mountains slide past the viewer. Two Mounties, Canada’s typical red-uniformed police, can be heard in the background. They discuss truths in witness statements in a friendly manner. Their day shift has just ended. And then they see, out of nowhere, the Dutch Freek (Daniël Boissevain) ranting along the road. He is busy smashing some paintings against a spruce. The reason for his madness? A woman.

The two officers pick him up. Not because his offense is so serious, but more out of interest in his story. They take Freek to a bar. Someone who is so ready, probably needs a drink. Just like them after a long day at work. It’s a somewhat cumbersome way to get the story going. But not without reason. The discussion about witness statements was not coincidental. Because is Freek the real victim in his story?

Freek appears to work in advertising together with his wife Iris (Eva Duijvestein). A world of pretense, dreams that come true and free sex. Freek also participates happily. He wears out women galore. Until he meets the young muse Alberta (Jamie Grant), with whom he temporarily flies to Canada under the guise of an impending burnout. However, his mistress does not want to know anything about temporality. She wants to stay there forever. Grow old together. And raise a child together. But nothing is more fickle than a young woman. When Alberta meets another man, she seems to want to leave Freek. Freek’s secure existence collapses like a house of cards.

Is Freek the victim of the choices of a woman who still has her future ahead of her? Or can he be seen as guilty because with his cowardly and in his eyes consequential sex drive he has done the same to his wife many times? The answers to those questions will come when not only Alberta returns, but his wife Iris has crossed the ocean to get a sign of life from her husband.

The fact that the two friendly agents easily go along with the victimhood that Freek appropriates shows how that is not an individual characteristic of an advertising man, but a universally male one. The otherwise rather light-hearted ‘Alberta’ shows in the typically Dutch, but wonderfully crazy climax, however, that women can indeed take matters into their own hands, without slavishly following their sinful husbands. And that men are not that important yet. But above all, the power of sincere love is not to be trifled with.

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