It is said that some daughters are attracted to their fathers at some point in their lives. Those kinds of feelings are rarely explored in cinema, as they are delicate issues to deal with. The unforgettable "Hemel" takes a sincere and penetrating approach to this facet of life, and it triumphs in every level.
Hemel (Hannah Hoekstra) -- which means heaven in Dutch -- is a gorgeous 23 year-old woman who we meet right at the beginning of the film, in a chapter called "Genital Phase." Here, we find Hemel with what we assume is her boyfriend, both totally naked, on a bed, somewhere before, during or after sex - or none at all. Their talk is aggressive and inflammatory, with the male lover asking Hemel, "You don't shave, do you?" And Hemel answering, "Why?", and her boyfriends telling her, "You have a hairy c--t." Hemel, not particularly happy, responds, "Yes. And?" To which her lover says, "I'm not a bushman." Still unhappy, Hemel tells him, "Oh, you are a child molester." The lover then asks, "Ever had a mouthful of pubic hair?" And so goes this formidable scene, a Kodak moment of real life. From then on, the movie evolves into small chapters exploring Hemel's sexual life and her close relationship with her father - she doesn't have a mother. We'll witness how Hemel deals with several lovers, always finding something wrong with them, including one Algerian man, whose tenderness bothers her. She tells him that she didn't "like afterplay, petting after an orgasm. It's more masculine to fall sleep after sex, like lions." She also talks harsh to and is sarcastic with her loved ones, including her father. However, it is her father that she trusts more and seems to want to imitate.
Director Sacha Polak says that "Hemel" is about a father and daughter who have a symbiotic relationship. This seems true as you watch the film, as you see a beautiful, conflicted young woman insecure about life and love. This is powerful, real-life filmmaking. The DVD includes interviews with Hoekstra, Polak, and screenwriter Helena Van Der Meulen; a 12-page collectible booklet; and more. (Netherlands, Spain; 2012, color, 80 min plus additional material)
Reviewed on March 12, 2013 by Eric Gonzalez for Artsploitation Films.