Eye For Film >> Movies >> Hidden Flaws (2004) Film Review
Reviewed by: Susanna Krawczyk
Based on a book by Dutch feminist writer Renate Dorrestein and directed by Paula van der Oest, Hidden Flaws is a nice mixture - a Dutch film set and filmed in Mull. The scenery of course is gorgeous, and we learn it is for this reason that elderly Agnes Stam (Henny Orri) has returned to her family's holiday home even after the death of her brother Robert, her relationship with whom was perhaps not entirely above board. Indeed, when the viewer first sees Agnes carrying an urn marked "Robert Stam", and when we are treated to many flashbacks involving the pair, one could be forgiven for believing them to have been a blissfully married couple.
Contrasted with this are brother and sister Chrissy (Priscilla Knetemann) and Tommy (Bram van den Hooven), touring the west-coast islands with their parents, and in a situation with their elder brother Waldo that is far from blissful. Running from him and from their unseeing parents, they cross paths with Agnes and seek refuge with her for a while. Lonely and perhaps not with all mental cylinders firing, she protects them, hiding them from the police who want to reunite them with their parents, and from their own guilt and sense of shame at what has been happening to them. Agnes' own experiences seem to both help and hinder her in understanding their problems.
There is a fair amount of interesting speculation here. What is the nature of abuse? What Waldo is doing is clearly wrong, but can the same be said of Agnes and Robert? Is it ever possible to know how a person feels about you? Isn't it better not to know? Agnes perhaps sees the world very differently from the true nature of things. A betrayal leads to more betrayals, and alongside this is a pair of kids whose whole life has been one betrayal after another.
The performances from the child actors are very good, and Priscilla Knetemann in particular is scarily believable as a girl who has been aged beyond her years by her experiences. Perhaps a little too slow and at times melodramatic, but moving and enormously thought-provoking. Having seen Hidden Flaws I very much would like to read the novel it is based on, along with some more of Dorrestein's work.Reviewed on: 26 Feb 2007
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