Directed by: Jean van de Velde | 103 minutes | biography, drama, music | Actors: Daniël Boissevain, Marcel Hensema, Karina Smulders, George Rossi, Andy Nyman, Maarten Rischen, Joop Bonekamp, Helge Slikker, Elisa Beuger, Robbert Blokland, Tijl Bolhuis, Ruben Brinkmann, Anne Buurma, Nanette Edens
“Wild Romance” is not intended to be an exhaustive representation or biography of the life of Herman Brood, but covers the first five years of this “rock and roll junkie” career. The film will be released exactly five years after Brood’s death and the month in which he would have turned sixty. His death has brought a revival of his arts. In 2005 a Herman Brood museum was even opened in Wageningen, where many of his paintings, silkscreens, drawings and other paraphernalia can be admired. His paintings in particular always sold well. The film is therefore mainly about the first years of his career, where the emphasis is on his music. Many people will remember him more about his performance-like activities and his painting.
In “Wild Romance” all information comes to us through his manager and friend Koos van Dijk (played by Marcel Hensema). The role of Herman Brood is played by Daniël Boissevain, who therefore has the ungrateful role of having to portray a person like Herman Brood. At that time, Herman was not yet, as in his later life, affected to all its fiber by alcohol and drugs. Despite imitating Herman’s mannerisms well, Daniël Boissevain does not really succeed in conveying the drama of Herman Brood. He remains the pretty boy a little too much. The music in the film is the music of Herman himself and Daniel playbacks. That miming can be clearly seen at several moments.
What comes out well is the special relationship that has existed between manager Koos van Dijk and singer Herman Brood. Koos was not only a manager, but also acted as a kind of second mother who lovingly and devotedly cleaned up all the dirt and difficulties that Herman left behind (and there were many). The story mainly covers the period 1974-1979 and the events prior to and around the tour with the band through the U.S.A.
By choosing to have the story told from the memories of manager Koos, that role has gained an almost dominant position and it seems as if the lead role is not for Herman Brood, but for his manager and friend Koos. The role of Koos is also credibly and convincingly portrayed by Marcel Hensema, who himself was born and bred from Groningen and can sense the atmosphere excellently. Maybe it’s because of the accent, but there are also times when manager Koos is almost more like a character, like Kees van Kooten always interpreted perfectly. Then it sometimes takes on caricatural features.
Naturally, the film, after all, it remains a Dutch product, contains the necessary scenes that fit in with the life of sex and rock and roll. The groupies who would like to be “taken” by a celebrity also feature widely in this story. The drama that goes with Herman’s “Werdegang” when we see him more or less drifting into the status of a junkie is also unvarnished. There are hilarious scenes with Nina (played by Karina Smulders) and the blessing of the marriage by Reverend Simon Vinkenoog. Furthermore, there are a lot of too easy jokes in it, for example when Herman says during an arrest by German customs when he is anally examined: “It is not really rock and roll, a muff in your hole”.
It didn’t turn out to be a really good movie, “Wild Romance” is more of a nice movie. There is deliberately little real historical material in the film. At the same time, this leads to the lack of real drama. Ultimately, the too smooth and somewhat superficial design is too predominant to turn it into a truly content-rich product.
It should be mentioned that it is also hardly possible to interpret Herman as Herman was, a very complicated personality that can hardly or not at all be controlled, more of a kind of loose cannon.
The fans will enjoy it, if only because of Herman Brood’s good music and the lifestyle that Herman represented, that’s all right. The more neutral spectator will not really get excited.