Review: Standings (2007)

Director: Mijke de Jong | 80 minutes | drama | Actors: Elsie de Brauw, Marcel Musters, Stijn Koomen, Jeroen Willems, Joan Nederlof, Jennifer St. Jago, Shireen Strooker

‘Intermediate position’ offers us a profound and intense insight into the lives of Roos (Elsie de Brauw) and Martin (Marcel Musters). They are divorced and have a son Isaac (Stijn Koomen). Isaac lives with his mother, but has completely withdrawn into his own life and almost never leaves his room. Roos and Martin still meet regularly. They have not actually yet come to terms with their divorce, but ‘have’ to ‘consult’ with each other about their son’s problems. During these conversations all the old hurts of their relationship come up again and again. They hardly listen to each other, their conversations are mainly one-sided arguments in which they try to convince the other that they are right.

These conversations were recorded close to the face with the camera and thus show the emotions that the person has in them at that moment in every vein and fiber. Those discussions between Roos and Martin are razor-sharp, they verbally harass each other, one is even stronger verbally than the other. The dialogues are particularly clever, but at the same time highly recognizable for every person. Their inability to really talk to each other and about their son is evident from the very beginning.

Martin does not see the problems outlined by Roos at all and trivializes everything. He thinks it’s typical feminine nagging of an ex-wife. En passant he would of course like to demonstrate his own superiority. Roos does not let herself go in these conversations either and is also firmly committed to it. Catching each other’s flies, not wanting to understand each other or destroying each other with debating tricks.

Emotions and sarcasm, it is in a magnificent way and the actors go in and against it with heart and soul. Those emotions are further emphasized by the filming and editing method followed. During the conversations, the camera got into their skin, as it were. Both persons are alternately sympathetic and disliked, all their human weaknesses are cleverly shown by the way of editing and the sometimes switching of arguments when the same conversation is suddenly played from the other person’s point of view. Against this verbal violence from Roos and Martin is Isaac who does not speak a word and has withdrawn completely.

Parents separating is becoming increasingly common, but it remains a drama for the children. In the chaos of conflict, grief and anger, children often get lost. Problems often result. Isaac’s silence and seclusion are in enormous contrast to the explosions of words of his parents and, in addition to this contrast, at the same time provide a nice balance in the film. Can he free himself from this self-chosen isolation?

Mijke de Jong previously gained fame with ‘Heartbreaking’, ‘Broos’ ‘Excluded’ and the much praised ‘Bluebird’. ‘Bluebird’ was also used to tackle ‘bullying’ at school. ‘Intermediate position’ arose in a special way. The final film result is a sum in which the actors Marcel Musters and Elsie de Brauw, but also other opponents have played an essential part in, a kind of total project. A small occupation in quantity, but a high outcome in quality.

A film that can almost have a therapeutic effect for people with relationship problems, the analyzes made here are extremely recognizable and extremely credible. Razor-sharp, cynical and sarcastic, but also humorous, moving and intimate. A real pearl!

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