Review: Yes Sister, No Sister (2002)

Yes Sister, No Sister (2002)

Directed by: Pieter Kramer | 100 minutes | comedy, musical | Actors: Loes Luca, Tjitske Reidinga, Waldemar Torenstra, Edo Brunner, Lennart Vader, Beppe Costa, Paul Kooij, Paul de Leeuw, Frits Lambrechts, Pierre van Duijl, Raymonde de Kuyper, Trudy de Jong, Trudie Lute, Olga Zuiderhoek, Henk Stuurman , Henny Westerveld, Ad Knippels, Koos van der Knaap, Guus Dam, Joep Onderdelinden, Arjan Ederveen, Dylan Aziz, Jorgo Dimitriu, Gamze Güleç, Braz Keur, Loulou Keppy, Dorijn Curvers, Han van Eijk, Jody Pijper, Dian Senders, Ingrid Simons, Reinder van der Naalt

Whether you were born in the 1960s or before, or were born later, chances are you’ve never heard of “Yes sister, no sister.” Anyone who is even remotely aware of Dutch culture in the last century will have at least seen this title. This television series was written by the already legendary Annie MG Schmidt and famous faces such as Hetty Blok, Leen Jongewaard, Albert Mol and Barrie Stevens had a regular role. The catchy songs (which Annie MG Schmidt co-wrote with Harry Bannink) that immediately get stuck in your head and the comedic entanglements surrounding the retirement home that the series revolves around, the popularity of the series grew during the years that it was broadcast (1966 -1968) huge. Fate has it that the episodes were shot on a then-new and expensive video system, Ampex. Because the tapes were so pricey, the recordings were erased for reuse after the broadcast. So there is no longer a single episode of the series. Unbelievable when you think about it, but it undoubtedly contributed to the iconic status of “Yes sister, no sister”.

In 2002 a whole new generation was introduced to Sister Klivia, the angry neighbor Boordevol and all the residents of the retirement home through the feature film ‘Yes sister, no sister’. Pieter Kramer (director) and Frank Houtappels (script) already had experience bringing the old material to life, because they were also responsible for the stage version of JZNZ (1999).

‘Yes, sister, no sister’ is a musical comedy and because of the musical setting the events are slightly outside our reality. The cast goes along completely, and puts their characters on high, with exaggerated gestures and intonations. The story is simple: in the retirement home of sister Klivia (Loes Luca with a genuine Groningen accent, as an ode to Hetty Blok) dancer Jet (Tjitske Reidinga), Bobby (Lennart Vader), Bertus (Edo Brunner) and the engineer (Beppe Costa). The house is sublet by neighbor Boordevol (Paul R. Kooij) and he soon finds that too much noise is being made. At the slightest thing, he takes Sister Klivia to justice, but so far he has not been able to drive off the troublemakers. When Jet meets the charming Gerrit (Waldemar Torenstra) in the street, he follows her home after a song and a dance in the rain and he can’t get her out of his mind. Because he is a burglar, he manages to gain easy access to the retirement home in the evening, but Sister Klivia catches him. Gerrit also becomes a permanent resident of the retirement home, but when neighbor Boordevol hears that a burglar now lives next door, he seizes the opportunity to bully the neighbors away. But in the meantime, the engineer has invented a remedy that makes bad people good… he just can’t test it on people…

For the generation that has seen the TV series, ‘Yes sister, no sister’ is a feast of recognition. But also newcomers – provided they are up for camp – will enjoy the joviality that this musical pours out on the viewer. The songs are the beating heart of the film, the screenplay is skilfully woven around it. Classics such as ‘Don’t bang the doors’, ‘My grandpa’ and ‘Would you like a cutting of the fuchsia’ pass by and the choreography is delicious. Also kudos to the art direction: the sets and clothing are colorful and exuberant. ‘Yes, sister, no sister’ will not be everyone’s cup of tea, but for lovers of genuine Dutch camp this film is a bull’s eye.

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