DIRECTOR: ROBERT JAN WESTDIJK
COUNTRY: NETHERLANDS 1995
CINEMATOGRAPHY: BERT POT
MUSIC: Various pop music's of the day
CAST: Roeland Fernhout, Hugo Metsers Jr., Kim Van Kooten, Ganna Veenhuysen, Maarten Zomer
SUPER FEATURES: The camera work. The turnabout ending.
LITTLE SISTER is a hard film to sit through, for many people not used to film makers that love to take a total subjective point of view, for the duration of the whole film. Not very many people have ever done this.
This film takes this point of view literally, and stays with it through the end, which is a rarity in film making. For that alone, this film deserves a special mention. It is difficult to find films that are capable of doing this without ever having to go to the tripod for a standard shot. There are none of these in this film. The whole thing is hand held, and for what turns out to be a superb reason, and magnificent conclusion, although some will be terribly squeamish about it.
LITTLE SISTER, is the story of a brother and sister that have been close friends for a long time, and at one time on her ninth birthday, perhaps a little too close. But all of their adventures has been caught on film, by mom and dad, and later by Martijn, who has taken up the camera for real, although he does not discuss, or ever mention, that getting into film is what he is about. The film suggests a slight abusive obsession at first, and then begins to soften the stance once the story gets deadly serious.
The older brother, still, appears attached to his younger sister, now a woman, and he follows her around, in a rougher style than that of Mike Leigh, another film maker for subjective ideals. Martijn keeps the camera up close to his sister for the whole film, and follows her around.
Eventually it creates a few difficult situations, by walking in when she is making love to her boyfriend, and also doing a no-no, later on, which
causes the transition in the film.
Eventually, the situation gets around, and Martjin, is forced to try and figure out why he has become the way he has. He has failed in his relationship or marriage ( not clear ), and the reason may have been that he never got a sense of what it felt like to hold someone you really like, in this case the situation going back to when his sister was nine years old, and they got caught in the same bed.
The film now enters a very touchy area. And it takes the older sister to literally sacrifice herself to try and help her brother. As it turns out,
however improper the situation is, it does not go beyond the point of no return, and the suggestion is that Martjin has learned something, and that Daantje, is finally freed of her brother with the camera in hand, who tried to break the relationship with her boyfriend, in what may have
amounted to jealousy.
And in a fitting end, after the real touching, and touchy fifteen minutes, Martijn gets up and out of the bed to turn off the camera for the last time. For once, he was not abusive, and we can see that he has changed. He may not have conquered his fears, but his following his sister and bothering her is over for sure. She had to go through a rather uncomfortable moment which might have turned the wrong direction, but it did not, and her way of helping her brother displays a little bit more of love and care for him than he has through his obsessive behavior.
At this point we can only hope that things get resolved, but there is no reason to think that they will not.
It is clear that in those areas, sexual mores and attitudes are a bit easier than the Christian morality found in many other parts of the world. But, regardless, there are some things that affect individuals, and this film keeps it strictly "individual", mostly because of its camera style.
While, very often, the camera can be a bit odd, and off the mark, nevertheless, this is the strong point for this film in its desire to make a point. The point may be just this one person and his behavior have to learn a lesson, and he does. The relentless use of the camera, to see things like the eye truly does, is a refreshing style, over that of the average film. And the director and actors seem to be aware of this and take it upon themselves to make sure that this drama develops seriously and force a serious conclusion to it.
It is the danger in these conclusions, that one, or both, could wind up dead, but Daantje has succeeded where her brother has failed. His childlike playfulness has been used as an excuse for his insecurities, and his choice of moments defines that there is something there that he is
in dire need to resolve with his sister, although it may not be pleasant. His sister gives in, but she doesn't fall apart at all. She is the stronger
of the two, and does not use a camera to hide behind her fears.
An absolutely riveting film, that is very difficult to accept and appreciate because of its immediate link to what may be an incestuous relationship. But I don't know that two children should be punished for a moment of innocence, which may hurt them later, and in this case hurt Martijn seriously. And in the end, when the situation has to come to a head, we are teetering on the edge of our seats, scared shitless of what the outcome may be.
The film suggests here and there that the brother and sister have had a connection before, but I really do not see that any of these moments were any more than a teasing, or pleading to get attention, by Martijn.
Strong film that turns the tables mercilessly. Content may be inadvisable to some. Other than that, it is very well done and thought out. Exceedingly well designed by the director to bring about a turnabout ending to the story.
Not for everyone due to subject matter of implied incest. Excellent film otherwise.
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