Director Boudewijn Koole made his breakthrough in 2012 with his acclaimed debut film “Kauwboy”. It was not until 2016 that he came up with new, once again successful work: the previously unreportable ‘Beyond Sleep’, based on Willem Frederik Hermans’ novel Nooit meerappen. Koole succeeded with verve in completing the transition from book to film. Now, a year later, “Disappearing” appears virtually out of nowhere. It suggests a snack. The film cannot escape that idea completely.
Koole returns to the desolate regions of Norway in “Disappearance”, the same setting as in “Beyond Sleep”. The landscape is covered with 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 can be heard in the background.
Roos is on her way to visit 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 to the white-colored sky, breathe nothingness. But also mystery. Any contact with her family ends in a sense of unease. That is not so much due to her family. She seems to purposely place herself outside of her environment. Something 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. There is a reason for her return. She also carries another, bigger secret.
In form, “Disappearing” is very similar to “Beyond Sleep”. The frequent close-ups, the strong lighting that bring characters to the fore and the loudly perceptible sighs and groans, bringing those same characters even closer to the spectator. 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 sound effects that are difficult to define do evoke atmosphere. Koole repeatedly releases only part of a shot, which also gives an impression of danger. When Rose is grabbed by the throat from behind, it turns out to be just her young brother. When a barrel is pressed against her face, it is once again her little brother with an audio recording device. The acting is also in perfect order. The dialogues that do exist are accurate. Always a relief in a Dutch film. It says something about the stature of Boudewijn Koole that a film as “Disappearing” can be characterized as a snack. After only three films, the director is already one of the most distinguished filmmakers in the Netherlands.