Directed by: Thomas Korthals Altes | 87 minutes | drama | Actors: Esmée van Kampen, Ellen Pieters, Carolien Spoor, Gijs Naber, Sabrina van Halderen, Loes Haverkort, Matteo van der Grijn, Manoushka Zeegelaar Breeveld, Lotte Stig, Dilara Horuz, Sagid Carter, Anke van ‘t Hof, Britte Lagcher, Justin van Kampen, Fabian Jansen, André Dongelmans, Rick Schreuder, Umit Tokmak, Jessica Zeylmaker, Francesca Holtkamp, John Meerzorg, Barbara Klaaysen, Bruce Gray, Antonie Knoppers, Claudia Kooij, Ed Carree, Rafael Cartarino
Telefilm “Lieve Céline” is about eighteen-year-old, mentally retarded Brooke Heinke. She lives with her mother Pamela and her older sister Sue in a working-class area in Amsterdam-Noord. Brooke is still in school, but cannot handle the material. She is also bullied by her classmates. Fortunately, Pamela seems to know what Brooke needs and so Brooke fills her free time with watching soap operas (“The Bold and the Beautiful” is a favorite) and eating Negro kisses. Sue works at the Kruidvat and still shows some ambition within her capabilities. Pamela lights one cigarette with another, seems to be angry with society and chugs around in her red Canta every day (due to a problem with her legs). Everyone in Amsterdam-Noord seems to drive in there, as Brooke correctly observes. Before her mother comes home, she counts the passing red carts. Brooke does exhibit more almost compulsive neurotic behavior. She loves making lists: she keeps track of who is playing in which episode of The Bold on her laptop.
A dramatic event has one positive effect for Brooke. She gets to know Céline Dion’s music and is so impressed by it that she quickly becomes one of the most obsessive fans of the Canadian singer. From that moment on, everything in her life revolves around Céline and her music. When Johan, Sue’s new boyfriend, draws her attention to the fact that it is also possible to attend a concert, it becomes Brookes’s new life goal. She holds on to that with the determination of a pit bull and when the time comes, nothing or no one will stop her.
“Lieve Céline” is based on the book by Hanna Bervoets, for which the writer received the Opzij Literature Prize in 2012. The screenplay for the film is by Maarten Lebens, who excellently translated Bervoets’ novel into a compelling story for the screen. Just like in the book, the viewer sees the world through the eyes of Brooke: who cannot place everything that happens to her and her environment, but of course the viewers are able to fathom the situations and characters. The sophisticated dosing of the information – the viewer thinks he knows everything, but that is not the case – this creates enough tension, because – unless you have read the book of course – you do not know what exactly happened.
The greatest asset that the makers of “Lieve Céline” have in their hands is the cast: Esmée van Kampen in the role of Brooke in particular is a golden find. What a great performance she achieves there. But Carolien Spoor as Sue and Ellen Pieters as Pamela are also very convincing. “Lieve Céline” is a poignant portrait of people who want more, but despite their brave efforts are unable to take their lives to the next level. It tells a sad story, which still makes for a smile here and there. And the fact that it is not a smile at the expense of the people it revolves around is an absolute credit to the makers. Director Thomas Korthals Altes, who previously made an impression with One Night Stand “Finnemans” (and won a Golden Calf for it), can add a title to his oeuvre with “Lieve Céline” to be proud of.