Review: Garden in my heart (2017)


Garden in my heart (2017)

Directed by: Marc Waltman | 101 minutes | comedy, romance | Actors: Leo Alkemade, Sanne Langelaar, Imanuelle Grives, Fockeline Ouwerkerk, Mike Lebanon, Sanne Vogel, Beppie Melissen, Pip Pellens, Edwin Jonker, Juvat Westendorp, Oscar Aerts, Aisa Winter, Jade Olieberg, Sergio IJssel, Glenn Durfort, Jetty Mathurin, Jörgen Raymann, Yannick Jozefzoon, Prem Radhakishun, Ronnie Ormskirk, Eric Schröder, O’Dog

Frank Boeijen already proclaimed in 1984 that you should not think in black and white, but in the color of your heart. The Surinamese Gladys must have thought the same when she went looking for a life companion. That search yielded a number of husbands and a whole host of children, in complexions ranging from lily-white to dark brown. When old Gladys falls ill, son Axel returns to Paramaribo with his Dutch wife and sister-in-law. There, the confrontation with his bitter brother Virgil awaits him.

This brotherly twist is the main part of the Dutch comedy ‘Tuintje in mijn hart’. In addition to that family quarrel, the film has many sidelines. Axel’s daughter, a girl who is doing an internship in Suriname and who has crossed half of Paramaribo, has got into trouble in a predictable way. Axel’s sister-in-law is on a mission to help strong Surinamese women to a healthy diet. And then there is also a Surinamese boy who seriously longs for Brabant.

Those sidelines get a bit snowed under by the dominant storyline about the brother dispute. But that is the least problem. ‘Garden in my heart’ is intended for adults, but resembles a children’s film in tone, humor and world view. The adult characters all have something childlike and the story has all kinds of elements from children’s literature, such as the discovery of gold on a piece of land belonging to the family. At the same time, the problem is mature enough, so that this comedy finds itself in a split for 90 minutes.

Another problem is the humor. You can roughly divide these into bland, flat or unintelligible, with a lack of originality as the greatest common denominator. Characters that splash in the water, a man who ends up in an ant’s nest during a lovemaking, that genre.

What the makers also don’t do is put down ethnic clichés. All Surinamese men are athletic playboys that white women like to eat. Surinamese women are all too fat, but they don’t care about that. That white Axel is the only one of his large colorful family to go to university in the Netherlands is also something to think about. And what should we do with a non-stop chuckling Jörgen Raymann as a wise (?) Indian?

Fortunately, ‘Garden in my heart’ is a cheerful case and the musical setting is just as cheerful. That doesn’t make this film good, but it does make it a bit easier to endure.

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