Review: 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 announced 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 in search of a life companion. This search resulted in a number of husbands and a whole tribe of children, varying in complexion from lily-white to dark brown. When the 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 over whom half Paramaribo has passed, has got into trouble in a predictable way. Axel’s sister-in-law is on a mission to help large Surinamese women to a healthy diet. And then there is also a Surinamese boy who seriously longs to return to Brabant.

Those sidelines get a bit snowed under by the dominant storyline about the brother-in-law. But that is the least problem. ‘Tuintje in mijn hart’ is intended for adults, but is more like a children’s film in terms of tone, humor and world view. The adult characters are all 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 issues are mature enough that this comedy finds itself in a split for 90 minutes.

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

Wat de makers ook niet handig doen is het neerzetten van etnische clichés. Alle Surinaamse mannen zijn atletische playboys waar blanke vrouwen wel pap van lusten. Surinaamse vrouwen zijn allemaal te dik maar daar malen ze verder niet om. Dat de blanke Axel als enige van zijn grote kleurrijke familie naar de universiteit in Nederland gaat, geeft ook te denken. En wat moeten we met een non-stop gniffelende Jörgen Raymann als wijze (?) indiaan?

Gelukkig is ‘Tuintje in mijn hart’ een opgewekt geval en is de muzikale omlijsting al even opgewekt. Dat maakt deze film nog niet goed, maar wel iets eenvoudiger te doorstaan.

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