Review: Teetje’s trip (1998)

Teetje’s trip (1998)

Directed by: Paula van der Oest | 90 minutes | drama | Actors: Cees Geel, Thekla Reuten, Dimitri Ivanov, Wolter Muller, Jaap Maarleveld, Abdeni Azzaoui, Dimme Treurniet, Cynthia Abma, Boris Abarov, Ron Christian Boom, Cilly Dartel, Nikolaj Dohorin, Herman Grootaers, István Jeney, Serge Latychav, Louis Laurijssens , Simon van Leeuwen, Re Leonie, Peteris Liepins, Ruud Louisse, Albert Muske, Henk Strijbos, Piet van Velzen, Fred Visser, Leonid Vlasov, Wlad Vogtushenko, Olej Yemelyanov

For ‘De trip van Teetje’, Paula van der Oest was not only inspired by the hopeless situation of ships with crew ‘on a chain’: the film was also shot on such a ship. The waiting crew members acted as themselves, on their rusty ship in Vlissingen. But it is mainly Teetje’s story that makes the film so compelling and moving. The criminal Teetje really just wants to live a little house-tree-bug with his Catholic girlfriend (“lit a candle”) and chaste nurse Mary (his former girl next door), who has her doubts about him. He is an ordinary Rotterdam boy who likes to arrange things well for himself and for everyone with a lot of bravado, but gets into deeper and deeper problems.

The developments in this film follow each other in quick succession and are intense, very exciting and sometimes surreal. Yet, and that is the special thing about the film, everything is completely believable. Text such as “I went to confession for your sins” (Teetje: “Oh already know that”) that you could easily make a caricature of someone, works very strongly because Mary says this while eating chips at Teetje in the car, which comes to pick her up after her late shift. That the two are in a relationship is almost surreal in itself, but you believe it immediately. Because in addition to the carefully constructed scenario, the great strength of this film lies with the three protagonists with their layered and believable acting and the strong directing of the actors.

Cees Geel, still unknown in 1998, who received a Golden Calf nomination for the role of Teetje, carries the film in a grand way. Only in Eddy Terstall’s ‘Simon’ (2004) do we see him in such a large character role, but as Teetje, whom we see change from naive and ambitious, via bluffing denying his panic, to heroic and tragic, he plays his most beautiful part. Thekla Reuten (also nominated) and Dimitri Ivanov form a nice counterbalance as the gentle, but ultimately self-chosen Mary and Nikolaj.

The music of Fons Merkies contributes to the power of the film, especially through the subtle editing by René Wiegmans. You are touched without being aware that there is music.

Paula van der Oest is best known for ‘Zus en Zo’ and ‘Tiramisu’: successful, neat, entertaining films. Not bad by any means, but miles away from this riveting tragedy. The big question is: why is her best film so unknown?

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