Review: Uncle Henk (2012)

Uncle Henk (2012)

Directed by: Elbert van Strien | 90 minutes | comedy, crime | Actors: Hans Kesting, Tobias Nierop, Bert Luppes, Sallie Harmsen, Romana Vrede, Peter Aerts, Ludwig Bindervoet, Raymonde de Kuyper, Hayo Bruins, Truus Dekker, Theo Pont, Negativ, Vastert van Aardenne, Coby Timp, Eric Wobma, Anis de Jong, Bob Schrijber, Michiel Rampaart, Werner Kolf, Griete van der Akker, Ron de Groen

Koen van Velsen (Tobias Nierop) is a young man without a plan. Life happens to him. He has no idea what he wants and has therefore opted for a law degree, but no conviction. Decisiveness and initiative are foreign to him. Fortunately, he often manages to talk himself out of difficult situations. Like that night when he and his girlfriend Sophie (Sallie Harmsen) were attacked by a gang of street boys in a dark tunnel. Koen was smart enough to say in that dire situation that the Amsterdam top criminal Henk de Koning (Hans Kesting) is his uncle. A smart move at the time, because the gang let them go. But when none other than De Koning himself shows up on his doorstep the next morning and won’t let himself be shaken off just like that, Koen will regret it like hairs on his head.

The story in the Telefilm ‘Uncle Henk’ (2012), directed by Egbert van Strien, does not have much to say, but is very catchy. Koen is more or less forced to do odd jobs by his brand new ‘uncle’. His main job is to pretend to be a volunteer in a care home to keep an eye on John de Nooyer (Bert Luppes). He was convicted some time ago for the kidnapping of a wealthy businessman, but was transferred because he was severely demented. De Koning, who still has a bone to pick with De Nooyer, asks Koen to keep an eye on him to see whether he is really demented or whether he is putting on a great acting performance. As if that weren’t enough, the poor student finds himself in a web of revenge and reckoning. Because not only the criminals need him to infiltrate, the aggressive detective Uitenhaage (Hajo Bruins) and the businessman (Theo Pont) who was once kidnapped by De Nooyer also exert heavy pressure on him. And even in the nursing home he is not safe, there the loving Grace (Romana Vrede) is after him.

‘Uncle Henk’ is a crazy tale of the consequences of one little white lie. Tobias van Nierop is a sympathetic central figure, whose thoughtless actions and natural swagger provide him with a strong dose of charm, but also ensure that he manages to get into trouble time and again. Opposite this is a lavish performance by Hans Kesting, who freely modeled Uncle Henk after Willem Holleeder (see the scooters, for example). Henk is unpredictable: sometimes he gets sentimental, sometimes he makes jokes. You just never know what his cap will look like, so any misstep can be fatal. According to him, a trauma from his childhood is responsible for his choosing the wrong path, but his psychopathic traits also contributed to that. Against this over-the-top role of Kesting is a more modest but equally incalculable contribution from Bert Luppes, because is he playing that he is demented or not? It’s nice how the script leaves you in the dark for a long time. The fact that poor Koen is not only in the grips of both criminals, but also the police and a victim of De Nooyer, is perhaps a bit too much of a good thing. The storylines don’t come out as well. Romana Vrede provides a hilarious note as elderly caretaker Grace, a somewhat unworldly aunt who is after Koen in her own way.

Although the story is wafer-thin and the people here and there fly off the track with superfluous storylines and over-the-top performances, ‘Uncle Henk’ is a fine Telefilm that is not necessarily exciting but above all very pleasant to watch and regularly on the laughter works. Don’t think too much, but just watch and let yourself be carried away into the crazy Amsterdam underworld, just like our hero Koen does.

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