Review: False Light (1993)


Directed by: Theo van Gogh | 90 minutes | drama | Actors: Amanda Ooms, Ellik Bargai, Thom Hoffman, Tom Jansen, Marijke Veugelers, Cas Enklaar, Dik Boutkan

Simon falls in love with his neighbor girl Lizzie. But she is certainly not a typical “girl-next-door”: Lizzie is a prostitute. Although Simon used to be content to observe through his binoculars, he decides to go see her one day. Not for sex, but for talking. Soon the two fall madly in love.

Simon has no problems with her job and thinks the two of them can easily manage. Unfortunately, it is all a bit more complicated. Lies are a daily occurrence for Lizzie and she has not yet broken with unreliable contacts from her past. Simon is a young and naive student who is convinced that he can change her destiny. Instead, however, he becomes entangled in all her lies and creates more and more distance between him and his immediate environment. He is so in love with her that it doesn’t seem like a problem for him to introduce his new flame to his parents and friends.

“False Light” is Theo van Gogh’s sixth film: a sad love story, based on the novel by Joost Zwagerman. More than in the novel, this film is about lies and insensitivity, a subject that Theo van Gogh will not easily put aside in his later films. Despite its frivolous theme, the film does not seem very modern. Of course we should not forget that we are now twenty years later. At the time, it was probably still an exciting and perhaps even offensive topic, while few taboos remain in our society.

Top actors like Thom Hoffman also manage to put in a good acting performance in this film, but the lesser-known actors like Amanda Ooms and Ellik Bargai are unfortunately quite disappointing. An interesting fact about the last actor, who took the role of Simon, is that at that time he had an affair with Theo van Gogh’s wife, which ended the marriage between her and the director. In the film, Van Gogh makes an ironic but bitter allusion to this. In the scene at the station, a broadcast message can be heard: “Would Mr. Bargai want to contact Ms Van Gogh?” “Piece by piece and film by film, we learn more about the first mysterious Theo van Gogh.