In the impoverished southern Dutch province of Limburg, the bond between a former mine worker and his only son is put to the test as the latter takes it upon himself to pay his father's debts to a local gangster.
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Jeroen van Koningsbrugge,
Lei, descendant of an unemployed coal miner, is an aimless man in his fifties, living a hand to mouth existence. When Lei's son Jeffrey discovers that Lei has a long-drawn debt with Vester, a charismatic crime boss, he does what every loving son would do: He reckons his father's problems as his own.Written by
My recently reinvigorated love for homeland (Dutch) cinema led me on a personal quest to find more undiscovered gems. And what a gem I discovered with this film. Absolutely amazing that this didn't grab my attention earlier, but I guess that's also partially due to a slightly indifferent film industry in The Netherlands. Smaller, independent films tend to get less attention here.
It's a beautiful little story of a father and son who share an intense relationship and manage to stay afloat with petty crimes and odd jobs they do for a local crime figure. But when character differences start to drive them apart, their dreams of a better life slowly turn into nightmares.
The fact that the film plays out in Zuid-Limburg and is spoken completely in local dialect is probably a big disadvantage as well. I'm Dutch myself and couldn't understand half of it, so I was thankful for the Dutch subtitles. A disadvantage release wise that is. Not story wise. For me it worked perfectly, almost as a foreign film including, again for me, mostly unknown actors. All actually, except Johan Leysen, who was great as usual. But it was not Leysen who stole the scenes. It was the father and son and particularly Bart Slegers as the father "Lei". He is as stupid and selfdestructive as is painfully possible, and completely believable. Every ounce of him breathes a rough and tortured past. A beautiful heartbreaking performance.
This makes me want to see films like "Rundskop" again, or the movies by the Dardenne brothers, or even (and he's my absolute favorite) all films by Jacques Audiard. This is in the same league. It has a similar sober style, stylish but never too much. Just wonderful engaging storytelling. 8/10
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