Director: Wim Verstappen | 80 minutes | drama, romance | Actors: Ramses Shaffy, Kitty Courbois, Michael York, Shireen Strooker, Marina Schaper, Marianne van Wijnkoop, Sophie van Kleef, Johnny Lion, Rob Stolk, Vicka Wust, Conny Tavenier, Janni de Knegt, Henny Deul, Anouchka Bonnema, Ineke van Zelm
After the strong, nouvelle vague-inspired debut by director Wim Verstappen and producer Pim de la Parra, “The less fortunate return of Joszef Katus to the land of Rembrandt”, the “Confessions of Love” released a year later is rather disappointing. It cannot have been due to the budget, which grew from a meager 7,000 guilders (1966) to 85,000 guilders (1967). In itself somewhat ironic that this film is also known as “low budget” production and that even a more than tenfold increase in the production budget does not always have to lead to a better film.
The story is simple and not very startling. Ramses Shaffy is the journalist Frank Jansen, who has just made his debut. Due to an overdue tax debt, however, his literary debut has very little use in the financial field. He has an on-again, off-again relationship with his girlfriend Mascha (Shireen Stoker). When it goes out again, he meets boutique owner Marina (Kitty Courbois, who is listed on the title as “Kittie Courbois”), with whom he initially mainly has a correspondence.
Then the English photographer Peter (Michael York) also comes to Amsterdam, which causes complications when Mascha appears to be very interested in him. York is still very young here (25) and was still at the beginning of his international career as a movie star.
However, the star of this movie is Ramses Shaffy. When the film was made, the singer and actor was at the peak of its popularity. The French-born son of an Egyptian diplomat and a Polish countess had caused a furor on stage and on television and had made her debut in Bert Haanstra’s “The M.P. Case” in a supporting role in 1960. However, “Confessions of Love” was his first starring role. And Shaffy shows here that he can easily handle a charismatic and supporting role. With his casual look and beautiful voice, he gives Frank Jansen (boring name for a male protagonist) a certain “panache”, which – at least in the film – is irresistible to many women and to which he likes to indulge himself. Very handy if you are planning to write your next book about “eroticism in the Netherlands”.
The exposure scenes caused a lot of commotion at the time, but these days would hardly lead to a raised eyebrow among the general public, if only because of the frequency with which some of the ladies in the film bare their chests. Furthermore, the film only has some innocent and clumsy frolicking in bed, which almost comes across as endearing. But it would prepare Verstappen for the much more violent reactions to his future film “Blue Movie” (1971), which was also much more explicit.
The time frame is nicely sketched: just like in “Joszef Katús” it gives the viewer a glimpse into the past, into a completely different and yet recognizable Amsterdam. The black and white of the film is razor-sharp and crystal clear, although the sound quality is sometimes very poor. Some dialogues are hard to understand, but Shaffy’s penetrating voice-over is impressive. His sonorous and melodic voice guides the viewer through the film and also helps to get over dead spots several times. Luckily Shaffy also gets the chance to sing, even though the film is absolutely not a musical. In this film too, Verstappen is still indebted to the nouvelle vague, when halfway through the film he takes minutes for a surreal harem scene.
Ultimately, “Confessions of Love” became a less interesting film in Verstappen’s oeuvre, but certainly for fans of Shaffy’s work it is an indispensable viewing experience.