Review: The Day My House Fell (2017)


The Day My House Fell (2017)

Directed by: Thessa Meijer | 45 minutes | comedy | Actors: Peter van den Begin, Wim Opbrouck, Wim Willaert, Frieda Pittoors, Dahlia Pessemiers, Ann Tuts, Imani De Caestecker

The 2017 One Night Stands series includes six brand new films by promising directors. One of the great talents in the Dutch film world is Thessa Meijer (1992), who once won her first camera in a competition and took her first steps as a filmmaker in a club of the church she attended. She already won her first film prize at the age of seventeen and now, at the age of 25, her film ‘The day my house fell’ (2017) can be seen as part of One Night Stand 2017, after the comedy drama around three immature brothers who suddenly find themselves on their own was previously screened at the Netherlands Film Festival. Meijer got the inspiration for her film from her own memory. During high school biology class, she found out about the theory of evolution. Although she was raised very religious and until then believed everything in the Bible, that was the beginning of her doubts. The safe house of her childhood, in a sense, collapsed. A great source of inspiration for ‘The day my house fell’.

Meijer gathered three Flemish top actors for the leading roles in ‘The day that my house fell’; Wim Opbrouck, Peter van den Begin and Wim Willaert. They play the three brothers Roemer, Hein and Pé who live with their elderly mother Hillie (Frieda Pittoors) in a dilapidated and crooked house in a vast no man’s land. They run a gas station together, but the only one who comes regularly is truck driver Belinda (Dahlia Pessemiers), with whom Pé regularly takes a quick seesaw in a dilapidated shack next to the house. Since the house ‘sighs’ itself over, it must be straightened manually every year. That has been going well for years, but then mother Hillie decides on the day of her 75th birthday to secretly leave with the northern sun and leave her ‘nest stays’ behind. For the first time in nearly fifty years, the brothers are left to themselves and each other. And the relationships are quite skewed. The longer the brothers are stuck together, the more crooked the house becomes. Is there anything left to save?

How do you deal with a once familiar, safe situation that is slowly but surely crumbling; that is the starting point that Thessa Meijer took for her film. The three brothers desperately try to maintain the initial situation, but it doesn’t work. Romer, Hein and Pé are first class losers who have never taken responsibility for their lives, and never will, simply because they never learned how to do so because they have been living safely under mother’s wing for five decades. That can only go wrong. The collapse of their safe nest occurs here not only figuratively but also literally. Meijer, who wrote the screenplay together with Don Duyns, chose an abandoned Zeeland-Flemish polder as the location, which exudes a desolate atmosphere such as you see in westerns. There is really only a tumbleweed missing. The lived-in heads of the great Flemish protagonists fit perfectly in this setting. ‘The day my house fell’ is an atmospheric and strongly acted tragicomedy, with which Thessa Meijer presents her business card.

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