Au Revoir

on August 01, 2008 by Lael Loewenstein
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Forbidden passion and impossible love are the domain of this intimate Dutch drama buoyed by two sensitive performances. Two strangers, Laura (Johanna Ter Steege of "Immortal Beloved") and Jan (Guy Van Sande), cross paths in an ice rink, again on the streets of Amsterdam, and finally at the threshold of her apartment where, through their overpowering mutual attraction, they jump into bed together without so uch as a proper introduction.
Then Jan reveals he's married, and Laura must grapple with a love she cannot deny that becomes a burden she doesn't want. Hopelessly drawn ogether, but logistically pulled apart, the lovers try to lead separate lives. Jan returns to his stable but uninspired marriage with Ann (Els Dottermans, who sparkled as Danielle in "Antonia's Line"), nd Laura returns to her school teaching.
When they meet, as they do periodically, Laura and Jan are often framed in perfectly composed two-shots. Sitting face to face in a cafe, reclining side by side on the grass, or standing beside one nother in a park, the lovers are shot as if each were the other's mirror image, the ideal complement. But though she loves Jan fully, Laura's passion seems masochistic. Selfish and egocentric, Jan is no great catch. Without thinking, he rips open her emotional wounds every time he drops in on her.
Had his part been more fully developed, Jan might have been able to come off more sympathetically. This would all be soap opera territory were it not for the rawness of Ter Steege's performance. In her hands, Laura's consuming emotions feel utterly real, despite Jan's apparent shallowness. Every bit her equal, Dottermans as Ann sure-handedly paints a piercing and memorable portrait of a wife betrayed. Starring Johanna Ter Steege, Guy Van Sande and Els Dottermans. Written by Helena Van Der Meulen and Heddy Honigmann. Directed by Heddy Honigmann. Produced by Suzanne Van Voorst. No distributor set. Drama. Dutch-language; subtitled. Not yet rated. Running time: 114 min. Screened at the San Francisco fest.
Tags: Guy Van Sande, Els Dottermans, Heddy Honigmann, Johanna Ter Steege, Dutch, foreign, romance, teacher, emotional
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