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Review: White Fish (2009)

Director: Remy van Heugten | 75 minutes | drama | Actors: Marcel Hensema, Mads Wittermans, Jack Vecht, Stefan de Walle, Mark Ram, Jara Lucieer, Peter Bolhuis, Mark Zijlstra, Raymond Thiry, Hein van der Heijden, Bing Wiersma, Nelleke Zitman, Clemens Levert, Bastiaan Rook, Joep van Lieshout ,

The themes of fishing and drugs are interwoven in an entertaining way in the screenplay of the Telefilm “White fish” by Luuk van Bemmelen. directed the production, which is the first full-length for both, but not the first collaboration. Previously, the duo made the award-winning production “Over Rozen”, which won the Tuschinski Award for best exam film from the Netherlands Film and Television Academy, as well as the AVRO-Nassenstein Startprijs. The film was nominated for the Student Oscar in Hollywood. It remains to be seen whether “White Fish” will follow the same successful path. The subject is not completely original, for example it is strongly reminiscent of Sam Raimi’s “A Simple Plan” (1998). It is certain that this Telefilm is worth watching. The viewer is constantly kept in suspense; you feel that it is going to end badly, but in what way? And does it end badly?

An unfortunate incident causes fisherman Wim (Jack Vecht) to fall overboard and drown. His two sons, Stijn (Mads Wittermans) and Hans (Marcel Hensema), who sail with him on his cutter, are left with a lot of debts and a boat that urgently needs a repair. There is an offer from a fellow village to turn the cutter into a party boat, but Stijn and Hans do not want to do that yet. They set sail one last time, hoping to get a good catch. They do, but it is not fish that gets caught in their nets. Both brothers are taken aback when they discover they have fished a barrel full of cocaine. This could mean that all their problems have been solved, because according to Stijn – who has some experience with this – the street value is about a million euros. Funnily enough, it is precisely the more or less addict Stijn who wants them to report the barrel to the police, the good and faithful family man Hans already has the dollar signs in his eyes.

“White fish” was originally intended as a comedy, and here and there it still shines a bit. Some situations are still very humorous. Fortunately, we do not see this in the caricatural characters that often characterize a comedy, because the main characters Stijn and Hans are far from cliché and often act differently than you would expect. The is essentially a drama, in which the element emerges later. Actually, the latter is a shame, because the story itself is exciting enough, without the needing such a fierce end to it.

The rough life at sea is well portrayed and the hard life of the fishermen is portrayed realistically. The actors do a great job and create credible and lifelike characters. Also a big compliment to cameraman Mark van Aller (including “Pretpark Nederland”) who is very close to the actors and provides beautiful image compositions. The soundtrack is also striking. “White fish” suffers from a somewhat unbalanced scenario, probably due to the genre change, but is otherwise a good debut. Shall we head it in? Okay, let’s see: Fans of well-acted dramas will certainly not miss out on “Witte fish”.

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