Review: Johnny Bingo (2009)

Johnny Bingo (2009)

Directed by: Hesdy Lonwijk | 40 minutes | drama, short film | Actors: Kenneth Herdigein, Maud Loth, Manouschka Zeegelaar-Breeveld, Dennis Rudge, Francis van der Sloot, Audrey Kroesen-Langguth, Rob Spierenburg, Kitty Balker, Mission Bielue-Dee Luewis, Barbarel Slottje, Elsey Blijd, Clement van Daal, Steve Hooi , MJ Kroonenberg, Luc Theeboom, Denise Menes, Mark Kleijskens, Tjon Rockon

Hesdy Lonwijk, who graduated from the Dutch Film and Television Academy in 2007, became fascinated by the phenomenon of bingo, when he discovered a few years through a newspaper article that many Surinamese played in this closed world and are even addicted to gambling (or bingo). After some research, he came up with the story of ‘Johnny Bingo’ for the fourth edition of the film project One Night Stand, in which he takes the bingo world as a background for the history of John Burleson, nicknamed Johnny Bingo.

Johnny Bingo is a Surinamese single man in his forties, the kind of person who could be pigeonholed: an irresponsible womanizer, superficial, quick chat… so, stamp set, prejudice ready. However, there is more going on: Johnny wants to get rid of the eternal stress about money, he just wants to live a good life and dreams of going back to Suriname. He saves for a house, sends money to his native country whenever he can, but things are not going very fast yet. It won’t be a fat one either, that job of his, working at the local bingo hall, where he lists the bingo numbers with banal comments and before his shift in the public toilet room quickly makes a number with an anonymous bingo player in exchange for some bingo cards . The relationship with his mother, with whom he still lives at home, is not very good: her bingo addiction causes money problems in the household and the bailiff is a regular guest. So it’s no wonder that Johnny likes to dream away with his building plans. The arrival of a new and especially beautiful bingo player in the bingo hall gives Johnny a new impulse. Monique makes him adjust his plans for the future slightly, but then she just has to cooperate.

The image that Hesdy Lonwijk, together with screenwriter Helen Suèr, has painted of this Surinamese stereotypical man is quite tragic and depressing. Kenneth Herdigein portrays the title character strongly and convincingly, especially in the beginning; you spontaneously get the creeps from his popular chatter. Unfortunately, the film fails to develop the character a little more gradually, leaving you stuck with that first judgment and not caring much about what happens next. At 40 minutes, the film is simply too short for that. The running time has another disadvantage with this film: the story has been kept too simple, so that the ending does not manage to surprise. Precisely because the relationship between Johnny and Monique is treated so superficially, it is beyond question for the viewer what will happen and that takes away a lot, if not all, of the tension. A shame, but ‘Johnny Bingo’ does not yield a full bingo card.

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