Review: Keep Holland clean (2008)

Keep Holland clean (2008)

Directed by: Arne Toonen | 38 minutes | drama, short film | Actors: Bob Offenberg, Meshach Kumi, Kevin de Wit, Johan Draaijer, Sven Joustra, Sergio van Geel, Oscar Elsenburg, Clinty Thuijls, Roeland Ludoph, Gillis Biesheuvel, Thomas Boer, Job Raaijmakers, Fatma Genc, ​​Hicham Khelifi, Ada Nwosu, Jacqueline Honigh, Laura Smetsers, Willem Honigh, Mattijn Hartemink, Theo Pont

‘Keep Holland clean’ is written on the roof of a large apartment building in the area where this short film with the same title is set. An ambiguous meaning, but even a third explanation can be given: Originally intended as taking care of your environment and not spreading waste, the slogan Keep Holland clean is also the opinion of the group of Lonsdale young people. This hardcore youth wants to keep all foreigners out of the Netherlands. However, you could also interpret the motto as wishing that all radical (or rather: non-tolerant) thinkers disappear from the Netherlands.

At first glance, Robert Jan Overeem’s screenplay does not seem to be heading for the prize for originality. The story of ‘Hou Holland schoon’ shows a striking number of similarities with films such as ‘American History X’ and even the recent home-grown feature film ‘Skin’. In this, the main character also has a friend of a different nationality and this friendship is put under intense pressure as the story progresses, thanks to the influence of neo-Nazis. You hardly see it coming with Jesse and Harvey. While Jesse clearly looks up to his older brother, it’s not really clear why. Maik is never really friendly to his younger relative, he bullies him and often shows that he should not know anything about him. Yet at one point in the film, Jesse decides to get a hardcore haircut. The Lonsdale shirt that he asks to borrow from Maik, he may even have on it, Maik is suddenly so proud of Jesse. Harvey doesn’t do it much because he doesn’t yet understand the consequences, or rather, doesn’t suspect those consequences. Later in the film, the story still has quite a surprise in store, with which the film immediately scores points. The main character’s motivation may not be comprehensible, but it shows very well the dangers of following along, not only for those around you, but also for yourself.

Acting is fine, although Bob Offenberg sometimes has trouble getting his lyrics to come across as natural. Nevertheless, the twelve-year-old actor, who is mainly known as a singer, manages to bind the viewer. Meshach Kumi steals the scenes he plays in. The hardcore youngsters come across as very convincing and therefore terrifying. The scenes in which Jesse and Harvey reenact the Knights of Twilight game are especially inventive, with real sword fighting sounds. The picture that is sketched in ‘Hou Holland schoon’ of parts of Dutch society is inky black and does not make you happy. The short film is well produced and directed and fits perfectly into the One Night Stand series for which it was made.

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