Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

"Gaite Jansen is compelling in the central role, holding the film together with the sort of assurance that's rare in actors twice her age."

Adults may scoff at teenage frustration but if one offered them the chance to live like that again, most would run a mile. It's a time of acquiring responsibilities without any power, of experiencing adult desires that have no outlet; a time when developing personalities clash with those already established in the household, and when new dangers lead to parents imposing still tighter rules just when the need for freedom is most acute. For teenagers in rural areas there's the added burden of isolation, being trapped in a miserable situation due to other people's priorities. One might easily find oneself wishing for a supernova to wipe out life on earth, just for something to happen.

In Meis' house, everybody is waiting for the next car to crash. It's situated at a bend in a long road through flat fields. Meis' own father came along here, too fast, and that's how her parents met and how he became unfit for work, leading to ongoing tensions between the once-happy couple. Meis' mother talks about leaving, flirts with strangers, implies, perhaps, that the next crash will bring her a new lover. To add to her frustrations, her ageing mother has stopped speaking and shakes all the time. Meis puts on her mother's high heels and climbs up on the rooftop with binoculars, perhaps looking for a sign of hope. She lies down in the middle of the road, hoping a car will run her over. She sits on the old wooden pier watching the boats sail toward the city.

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Talking about boredom isn't easy. Meis uses the language of physics. She's waiting for a collision; any kind of collision, to release some energy. In the meantime, she makes do and makes out with a lesbian best friend who is probably in love with her. At night she walks to a half-built bridge where bikers gather, watching them from the long grass. She's looking for trouble but even even if she finds it, can it possibly be enough to satisfy all this yearning?

Gaite Jansen is compelling in the central role, holding the film together with the sort of assurance that's rare in actors twice her age. She gets able support but the weight of the piece is entirely on her shoulders as director Tamar van den Dop, who also plays her mother, weaves what action there is around her. Gregor Meerman's stark cinematography emphasises the family's isolation in perfectly chosen settings. It's a place that might be considered idyllic and the atmosphere, in Meis' long summer break, recalls holidays where there's nothing to do. Yet despite its depiction of boredom, the film rarely threatens to become boring itself.

For adults, this is a salutary reminder that the teenage experience is rarely as thrilling as Hollywood high school movies make out. For teenagers, it's a rare film that actually gets it.

Reviewed on: 30 Jan 2015
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Where Meis lives, absolutely nothing ever happens. She loses herself in wistful fantasies about love, sex and a world elsewhere.

Director: Tamar van den Dop

Writer: Tamar van den Dop

Starring: Gaite Jansen, Tamar van den Dop, Bob Schwarze, Elise van 't Laar

Year: 2014

Runtime: 90 minutes

Country: Netherlands, Germany, Belgium

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