Review: Distant Friends (2010)

Directed by: Marleen Jonkman | 50 minutes | drama, short film | Actors: Leny Breederveld, Jelka van Houten, Ceci Chuh, Dragan Bakema, Melody Klaver, Mutaleni Nadimi, Kuno Bakker, Mattijs Jansen, Nelson van Ewijk, Casper Knipscheer, Lennaerd Renwarin, Annet Saatrube, Destiny Wegman, Esperanza Groen, Don Groen, Zoë Harriford-McLaren, Jamal Narraina, Mohammed Boubaouch, Mohammed Akrah, Anouar El Ghali, Joska Kruijssen, Mounir Kramti, Mary Louise Moher, Derek Crump, Renato Zamboni, Thomas den Drijver, Arthur Lieveld, Ilse van de Bar, Mira Voorn

It is a well-known phenomenon in some cities, districts or neighborhoods: knowing your neighbors only superficially. Sometimes you don’t see them for weeks, and then if you meet them briefly when you’re just lugging in the heavy groceries and your child is still whining in the car seat, you don’t have time for a chat. The neighbors usually don’t either, by the way, so it’s just a greeting.

With “Far friends” Marleen Jonkman (based on a screenplay by herself and Janneke Jonkman) sketches a portrait of three women at different stages in their lives. They live very close to each other, but because of their own worries or disinterest they hardly know each other. The oldest of the three is the separated Ans (Leny Breederveld). She lives at 23 Javastraat in Amsterdam – for the pilgrims among you: this One Night Stand was actually recorded there, at least for the outdoor scenes – and works as a receptionist in a hotel. Her daughter Felicity (Melody Klaver) has been out of the house for some time now, so she decided to rent out her room. The tenant’s name is Lise. For reasons still unknown, she came from Germany to live in the Netherlands for a while. Either way, long enough to sign up for a language course. Lise is young, lonely, but also friendly and helpful. She carries a secret. Finally, we meet Ans and Lise’s neighbor, Machteld, who just turned 35 and ended up in a kind of midlife crisis. Dissatisfied with her relationship with the sweet, but somewhat pushy Thomas (Dragan Bakema), she is mainly looking. But to what? Does she want a child or is she looking for the opposite of stability?

In “Distant friends” there is strong acting. The three main actresses impress with their natural acting. Melody Klaver and Dragan Bakema are also good at their small roles. In addition to the excellent work of the cast, the film is also visually a picture: the cast is captured in beautiful close-ups, where the underlying emotions become clear, and in artistic frameworks, sometimes in particularly bright (sun) light. Very nice. There is an excellent exchange between the stories of the three women, so that the viewer remains stimulated. The addition of the seemingly meaningless scenes in the street contribute to the inspiring feeling that the film conveys: there is a story in every person.

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