Director: Colette Bothof | 85 minutes | drama | Actors: Sigrid ten Napel, Jade Olieberg, Lisa Smit, Ella-June Henrard, Martijn Lakemeier, Rik Verheye, Willemijn van der Ree, Steef Cuijpers, Pepijn van Putten, Eva van der Gucht, Guido Pollemans
A Dutch ‘Fucking Åmål’? We would sign for it in advance. The time is right – as witnessed by ‘Nena’ – for Dutch coming of age drama that hits the sad reality of shrinking areas without trivializing or romanticizing.
Not that these are the conditions for successful copies: a little threat and inconvenience – often absent from Dutch drama, is often enough. We now know that 15 million people feeling on this very small piece of earth; it may sand a little. After all, a movie is not a simmering steak. We find ‘Wilde mussels’ and ‘Character’ examples of successful Dutch ‘coming of age’, otherwise we remain silent like the grave.
In ‘Zomer’ by Colette Bothof (‘Zwarte Zwanen’) a traditional opening sequence with slow images and voice-over has been chosen, but it is stylishly different: tranquil cinematography supported by the caressingly alienating music of Jacco Gardner; beautiful character actors also like Eva van der Gucht and Steef Cuijpers. We see a Brabant village world between Biesbosch and the Amercentrale, dominated by rude men, patient women, the chip shop and the grace of Mary. A girl who falls off her horse is for the farmhand – not only a saying but also literally to be understood in ‘Summer’; an image like that of a teenage mother, who gives her baby the bottle in the pub toilet, sucking on a breezer, lingers.
The atmosphere drawing in ‘Zomer’ is evocative of a high level and that creates expectations about the expansion of the theme: the budding of the 16-year-old village girl Anne. Unfortunately the plane does not take off; it is as if the plot development of ‘Zomer’ is paralyzed by the languid rural heat. Through a haze of hazy air we seem to be looking at Anne (the talented but still too little physical acting Sigrid ten Napel); even as this bleue girl breaks out and discovers lesbian love in front of her conservative peers, it remains flat. As flat as the polder, although the air is shimmering.