If the Sun Explodes (2016)
Directed by: Hanna van Niekerk | 80 minutes | adventure, drama, romance | Actors: Wies Fest, Egbert Jan Weeber
His name is Philip, her name is Yara. Like all hip millennials, they look for adventure abroad for a while, in this case in the lush Lithuanian nature. Most of the time they are engaged in activities that you can also do elsewhere: drinking, swimming, having sex and lounging. Until we understand that Philip is also on a personal quest: he wants to meet a moose, because a shaman has told him that this is his totem animal.
In the feature film ‘If the Sun Explodes’ we follow these two on their not too adventurous journey. We see how character differences slowly disrupt the relationship. Yara is a cheerful and practical girl, Philip is an inflated ego-tripper, a boy who doesn’t realize yet that the world isn’t waiting for him. This clash of characters escalates in a way reminiscent of the Swedish drama ‘Turist’, without approaching the impact of that masterpiece.
‘If the Sun Explodes’ is the debut of the very young Hanna van Niekerk, who received a special allowance for this film. It is clear that we are dealing with a talent here. Despite the rippling story, the film rarely gets boring. Sophisticated compositions, beautiful use of colours, nice ideas, a consistent rhythm and appropriate music ensure that the 80 minutes are over in no time.
The problem is that Yara and Philip are two characteristic representatives of the snowflake generation. Despite the fact that they are well over 20, you have the feeling that you are watching a couple of teenagers, without scratching the soul, without discernible intellectual baggage, without any responsibility. Like kids on a teenage tour, who in their infatuation and childishness hardly notice the world around them.
Even because of the youthful (fakking) language, this (fokken) film will not be able to touch many people over the (fokken) thirty. But there is no doubt that Van Niekerk is a talent. If only because of that one beautiful scene in which everything comes together, a scene with an old-fashioned slide projector and a gloomy hotel room.
In order to also captivate older viewers, Van Niekerk will have to go for a better developed and more mature script next time. Still, this is a pretty decent debut. And with those (faking) snowflakes it will probably be fine too.