Review: Between 10 and 12 (2014)

Director: Peter Hoogendoorn | 70 minutes | drama | Actors: Elise van ‘t Laar, Ko Zandvliet, Nasrdin Dchar, Cynthia Abma, Raymond Thiry, Olga Louzgina

Of all the things that belong to a police officer’s range of duties, bringing bad news is one for which you can muster nothing but admiration. Going to an address to drastically change the lives of those involved with one statement; that must demand a lot from you. In ‘Between 10 and 12’ we follow two agents (played by Nasrdin Dchar and Cynthia Abma) on this difficult task. A girl was killed in a car accident in Belgium and her family must be informed.

This feature film debut by Peter Hoogendoorn is more personal than you would expect from the images, because the filmmaker draws on his own experiences. But in ‘Between 10 and 12’ the camera often remains at a distance, the frames are tight and the emotions are hidden under a thick layer of self-control. And when that self-control crumbles, it happens off-screen, like when Mike (Ko Zandvliet) – the deceased girl’s brother and the first to hear about it – destroys a kitchen cupboard. But perhaps it is powerlessness to show grief.

Of course you don’t tell a bad news item like this by telephone, so Mike’s parents must also be personally informed. ‘Between 10 and 12’ therefore moves from the house where Mike lives with his parents and sister to the work of Mike’s father Gerard (Raymond Thiry). Like Mike, his character is also introduced to the viewer in a calm manner. We see him conferring with his colleagues and making a few phone calls (which still gives you the idea that the terrible news will be communicated by phone). A tip of the veil of the father-son relationship is lifted when he gets the agents in his sights. And then it is looking for the mother, Irina (Olga Louzgina).

That (largely) absence of tears makes ‘Between 10 and 12’ stronger. Just like Mike’s girlfriend Katja (a very strong Elise van ‘t Laar), who actually gets involved in this situation unintentionally, we don’t know the victim and we hardly know anything about the family. How they live, how they interact with each other. It feels wrong to witness this, it is too intimate, despite the lack of desperate cries and other noticeable griefs. That is why you feel the most for her, thanks to her subtly portrayed feelings of discomfort, such as in the hairdresser’s toilet. Heartbreaking.

When a loved one dies, or there is some other major event in your life, you may be surprised that life just goes on. That there are people who can worry about the most everyday things. In fact, that you appear to be able to do normal things yourself. ‘Between 10 and 12’ shows this in great detail, not only by the contrast that the environment offers, but also by showing the family in the period before and after the news coverage. Beautiful, subtle film with a beautiful and very satisfying end shot.

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