Review: Saddle Pain (2007)

Directed by: Nicole van Kilsdonk | 87 minutes | drama | Actors: Monique van de Ven, Jacqueline Blom, Reneé Fokker, Wivineke van Groningen, Raymonde de Kuyper, Lineke Rijxman, Sylvia Poorta, Gijs Scholten van Aschat, Paul Hoes, Rudolf Lucieer, Kirsten Denkers, Truus te Selle, Ad Knippels, Dic van Dune, Christophe Thébault

When you think of women’s suffering, you quickly think of menstrual cramps, pain during epilation and discomfort while dyeing the hair. Not from saddle pain. But that is what the seven friends in the film “Zadelpijn” (based on the novel “Zadelpijn en different ladies’ sorrow” by Liza van Sambeek) do. Once a year, the friends’ club leaves for France to cycle. And that is fanatic. The holiday was once created to lose calories in a short time. You would rather suspect these ladies of long shopping in PC Hooftstraat, not having to spend miles cycling through the hilly landscape of the French Loire region.

In the prologue a lot is suggested. An saves companies with SWAT analyzes. Meanwhile, she arranges the vacation and casually suspects her husband of cheating. Agnes calls the friends from the bed while a man is in the shower. Sylvia meets her ex-husband and presses her new breasts – thanks to plastic surgery – under his nose. In short, the viewer is curious. This is not going to be a standard film about a cycling holiday full of beautiful landscape pictures.

On the French rap “La Tribute de Dana” from Manau, An and Nina drive to France in a big car. The bikes on the roof. They pass the Belgian border, drive over the busy ring around Antwerp, see the Eiffel Tower from the highway. The delighted feeling that the holiday is about to start is good.

The pressure is immediately increased at the chic hotel. Dying girlfriend Mariet gets out of the car. The chemotherapy has made for a bald head. The friends are shocked by her appearance. Agnes is on the phone with her married lover all vacation. Nina mourns the loss of her husband and Max tries to be a cool woman despite her family life. And then finally An and Sonia. Sonia turns out to be doing it with An’s husband. All in all, enough ingredients for a tasteless soap.

But that is certainly not “Saddle Pain”. Real people with real problems, that’s what this movie is all about. Older women, with enough money and yet happiness is not there for the taking. The conversations are so lifelike and every character so convincing. There is the control cousin, the follower, the pacemaker. What a party, seven top women acted by top actresses. Monique van de Ven gets along well with An’s character. As casually as she stubs her cigarette before getting on her bike. Or Wivineke van Groningen as Mariet: her brave smile when she faces her friends and the joy when she reaches the finish line.

The cycling holiday is called the Tour de Tiet by the “girls”. The associated challenge trophy has the shape of a chest. So studentlike, if not adolescent, but at the same time so real. It also typifies them. They are adults, they have problems, but that friendship from college days remains. Let them focus on that saddle pain. Because it remained with that pain, at least it is to be expected and bearable. The other woman’s suffering makes life so hard.

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