The Last Days Of Emma Blank

The Last Days Of Emma Blank


Reviewed by: Leanne McGrath

In her secluded home by the sea, lady of the manor Emma Blank (Marlies Heuer) rules with an iron fist. She is a harsh, cold mistress – fickle, demanding and abusive to her clearly dissatisfied servants.

But it soon transpires that all is not as it seems – Emma is dying and her servants are really her family acquiescing to her dictatorial requests in the hopes of pocketing a substantial inheritance.

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This family really put the ‘fun’ in dysfunctional.

Her estranged husband Haneveld (Gene Bervoets) poses as her butler – even donning a fake moustache when she demands it – while her daughter Gonnie (Eva van de Wijdeven) acts as a grudging maid and her sister Bella (Annet Malherbe) is the cook.

Odder yet is her brother Theo, played by director Alex van Warmerdam, who pretends to be the family dog. He eats leftovers, poops in the garden and even rides up people’s legs.

But the façade soon begins to crumble.

Emma is determined to take advantage of every ounce of power she has over the members of her unhappy household, who are waiting and praying for her to die. Any genuine sympathy or tenderness they might have shown her is wiped out by her cruelty – although viewers cannot feel sorry for them as they are equally vile in their own ways.

Alex van Warmerdam is one of the Netherlands’ most interesting and acclaimed directors and this well-crafted tale, adapted from a play, offers lashings of humour alongside its damning critique of greed and manipulation. The dialogue is wonderful, the outdoor setting stunning and there are solid performances from the entire cast, many of whom were in the stage version.

Reviewed on: 28 Mar 2010
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An elderly woman drives her 'servants' to distraction as they wait for her to die.
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Director: Alex van Warmerdam

Writer: Alex van Warmerdam

Starring: Alex van Warmerdam, Gene Bervoets, Annet Malherbe, Eva van de Wijdeven, Marlies Heuer, Gijs Naber, Marwan Kenzari

Year: 2009

Runtime: 89 minutes

Country: Netherlands


London 2009

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