Review: Disappear (2017)

Disappear (2017)

Directed by: Boudewijn Koole | 91 minutes | drama | Actors: Rifka Lodeizen, Jakob Oftebro, Elsie de Brauw, Marcus Hanssen

Director Boudewijn Koole broke through in 2012 with his acclaimed debut film ‘Kauwboy’. It was only in 2016 that he came up with new, once again successful work: the previously unfilmable ‘Beyond Sleep’, based on Willem Frederik Hermans’ novel Never Sleep Again. Koole successfully completed the transition from book to film. Now, a year later, ‘Disappear’ appears almost out of nowhere. It suggests an in-between. The film cannot completely escape that idea.

Koole returns to the desolate regions of Norway in ‘Disappearance’, the same setting as in ‘Beyond Sleep’. The landscape is covered by a blanket of snow. The world seems deserted. The only movement comes from Roos (Rifka Lodeizen) and her car. She’s on her way. A small beacon of color in an overwhelming white decor. Relaxing piano music plays in the background.

Roos is on her way to her mother Louise (Elsie de Brauw) and brother Bengt (Marcus Hanssen), who is celebrating his thirteenth birthday. They live deep in the Norwegian forests. The almost endless rows of snow-covered trees, reaching up to the white-colored sky, breathe nothingness. But also mystery. Any contact with her family ends in a sense of unease. It’s not so much her family. She seems to deliberately place herself outside her environment. Something has happened between her and her family in the past. Something that could explain her isolation. But also something that will undoubtedly come to the surface again now that she has made the trip to Norway again. Her return has a reason. She also carries another, bigger secret.

In form, ‘Disappear’ is a lot like ‘Beyond Sleep’. The frequent close-ups, the strong lighting that make the characters come to the fore and the loudly perceptible sighs and groans, bring those same characters even closer to the viewer. At the same time, there is little dialogue. The language barrier stands as an annoying obstacle between her and the Norwegians.

Although not very innovative, the otherwise beautiful images and hard-to-define sound effects do indeed evoke atmosphere. Koole repeatedly releases only part of a shot, giving an impression of danger as well. When Rose is grabbed from behind by the throat, it turns out to be just her young brother. When a barrel is pressed against her face, it is again her brother with a sound recording device. The acting is also top notch. The dialogues that do exist are accurate. Always a breath of fresh air in a Dutch film. It says something about Boudewijn Koole’s stature that a film like ‘Disappearance’ can be characterized as a snack. After only three films, the director is already one of the most distinguished filmmakers in the Netherlands.

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