Loss is not always easy to accept. Some people, mostly the elderly, simply refuse to understand that someone is gone. For example, for fear of the pain, the emptiness and the loneliness. The loneliness that Thea (Ageeth Meulenbroek) feels in the NTR Kort! Film “Visite” (2018) by Stijn Bouma is painfully palpable in the closing minutes. Bouma is a young Dutch filmmaker who is steadily making progress. While training at the Sarajevo Film Academy – he followed the film.factory program set up by the Hungarian director Béla Tarr – he was taught by such greats as Apichatpong Weerasethakul (‘Cemetery of Splendor’, 2015), Atom Egoyan (‘The Sweet Hereafter ‘, 1997) and Carlos Reygadas (‘ Stellet Licht ‘, 2007). Bouma’s debut film “Lejla” (2017) was selected for the Cinéfondation part – a breeding ground for young directing talent – at the Cannes Film Festival. A beautiful accolade that raises expectations around “Visite”. Fortunately that Bouma fully lives up to them with this film, shot in one take.
A pan of pea soup is simmering on the fire, the cat scrambles across the table. And either it is homely and cozy in Thea’s far too large and remote house. She has recently become a widow but insists that everything is fine with her. Her son (Abel Nienhuis) has his doubts and braves an autumn storm to check how his mother is doing. He only comes for a cup of coffee, he emphasizes. “Will you stay for another bite to eat? Nothing beats your mother’s fresh pea soup, “Thea tries, but her son has no intention of staying very long. Would he be busy? He cautiously tries to suggest that she should go to a care home, or at least request home care. But Thea doesn’t worry about it, she can manage just fine. She doesn’t need more care, she says. The question is whether that is really the case. Because as soon as her son closes the door behind him, we see how the flag actually hangs.
“Visite” is one shot of about ten minutes, in which the focus is exclusively on Thea. Her son is there, we hear him and see him for a moment, but it is clear that it is not about him. It is immediately clear that Thea is more vulnerable than she would have us believe. She tries so hard to make it warm and homely, to pretend nothing happened, but in her eyes we read sadness and loneliness. She desperately tries to keep her son with her, but he has to move on. She cannot continue, at least that is how it feels for her. It is no longer complete. With a lot of tenderness and sensitivity, Bouma exposes with his short film how poignant loneliness can be. For like Thea there are thousands who do not know what to do with their loss; it could be our own mother, aunt or grandmother. These are ten tender minutes that come in hard!