- Language: Dutch, English
- Subtitles: German
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
- ASIN: B00004RTYB
It's an auto-biographical work by the Dutch director, Jeroen Krabbe. Film critics from major daily newspapers reviewed it, and the film had only a limited American release, perhaps because of the controversial nature of the film.
He recalls his first homoerotic friendship in a series of flash backs. The flashbacks take place in the Netherlands at almost the end of W.W.II. The Allies arrive and Jeroen and Walt meet and enter into a relationship between a man and a boy. The subject is handled with a openness and truth which could never be handled as subject matter in most countries
Part of this film is in Dutch, with English subtitles, however, a good part of this movie is in English with no subtitles.
Again, this is a touchy subject matter that is handled very well.
Those things said, there is nothing particularly excellent about this movie. It is touching, nostalgic, and truthful, but it is none of these things to the point of truly affecting your heart. Part of the reason is that it's too short, another part is that the ambiance (editing/music/so forth) are not very well done, and another part may be simply that I had read so many extremely complimentary reviews that my expectations were just too high.
It's a nice movie... but don't expect a masterpiece.
First, the easy part . . . . The movie is well-crafted, structured around flashback, a deft mix of subtitled Dutch and English in reflection of the idiosyncratic communication that evolves between the main characters, and beautifully filmed in the soft light of northern Europe. As a piece of cinematic craftmanship, I'd give it 4 stars.
But then there's the story itself. Can sexual relations between an adult and a child ever be excused by love or circumstances? Before this movie, the answer for me was a resounding no. After this movie, I simply don't know. The man here is not a sexual predator in that he is not attracted to the boy by virtue of his youth. Instead, he is a gay man doubly isolated by his sexual orientation and by being on foreign ground at the end of a world-shattering war. And, coming across a gay boy likewise isolated from his home at the end of the same war, a bond is forged that did not have sex as its initial aim and came to include sex only after love was so deeply established as to have rendered age irrelevant.
Or did it? After all, the soldier is first attracted to the boy by his looks, not by anything he knew about the boy or his circumstances. And can age ever be irrelevant to sex involving minors? Do 12-year-olds ever know enough of themselves, their world, and its risks to be informed participants?
If nothing else, this movie accomplishes something by making the question tenable. But does it, in the end, make this love affair all right? I simply don't know.
This movie stands up as a thought-provoking film. It should not, however, be read as an unambiguous justification for adult/child sex. Since it, however, implies more than presents the ambiguities and could leave some thinking they've just watched an argument that child sex taboos are nothing more than unwarranted modern western uptightness, I discount it to 3 stars.