LITTLE TONY (Kleine Teun)
DIRECTOR: ALEX VAN WARMERDAM
COUNTRY: NETHERLANDS 1990
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Marc Felperlaan
MUSIC: Alex Van Warderdam
CAST: Alex van Warmerdan (Brand), Annet Malherbe (Keet), Ariane Schluter (Lena)
SUPER FEATURES: Best directed play in a movie you will ever see.
Seen at the 22nd Portland International Film Festival
If one takes aside the tragic ending, this is probably one of the best directed films in this festival. and this is so, probably because the director resolves with a film camera all the dilemmas that any actor would have on a stage, the subtleties that the audience can not possibly keep track of, and appreciate. In this alone, the film is magnificent. In acting, let's just say that it would make for a rather exciting evening, with some very funny moments in between, the doors in the film not withstanding.
Never in film has anyone done so much, and so well, with doors, that could easily make the early days of cinema look foolish and petty. The line delivery is excellent around these set pieces, and rarely does one feel that we are not on a stage, watching this drama unfold in its own eccentric, and rather odd way.
But as the film creates its dilemma, it also sets the stage for an ending that, like comedy, is hard to finish. How does one finish this whole thing,
that started as a bit of a lark, and ends in a murder?
The story centers around Keet and Brand, who by all looks, are married. And have been for many years, which have become a strain on Keet. She has not been able to have a baby, it seems, either to Brand's lack of attention, or worse yet, they probably are not married and Brand is now showing little attraction for her. This, I don't think that is ever made really clear. But Keet badly wants a baby, and she is beginning to think that she can get it anyway she can.
As chance would have it, Brand is illiterate and has a hard time reading the sub titles in many movies he watches on TV. Keet is tired of translating things for him. She hires a tutor to help him learn to read and write. And later we discover what her real plan was all along. What she didn't bargain for, was that Brand and Lena would fall in love, and that Keet would be pushed aside and forced to do the things she detests, like eating meat she doesn't like, or think is not good food. Eventually, Brand and Lena have a baby, and now the triangle is in serious trouble and the strain is getting impossible. Keet has lost a husband she likes, and now has a baby that she can look at, but she can not adore it like she would like, or a mother would.
And eventually the situation explodes, and the result is sad and unforgiving, and basically ends the whole thing for all three of them. Situation aside, this is a film that is very enjoyable, as its comic situations and pacing is excellent and its camera design next to the actors' work is indeed well thought out, specially when it comes to doors and windows. One would think that a prop is not that important, but nothing speaks more in this film than the doors. They are the one thing that eventually define the end. But in between, one can not avoid laughing at the way these things are used, or abused.
A one man show, a director who is obviously well trained and particularly sensitive to the actor's work on a stage, he knows how and when to fill moments. One rarely gets the feeling that something is wasted, and this show must have been superbly rehearsed, or the magnitude of the actors is way above and beyond the usual that we find.
Good film, very enjoyable. Tragi-comedy at its best.
4 of 5 GIBLOONS
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