Three Days Of Fish


Reviewed by: Sergiu Inizian

Three Days Of Fish
"Hoogendoorn crafts the tension around space and body which cinematographer Gregg Telussa captures candidly, usually keeping both protagonists within the frame." | Photo: Heretic

A deadpan comedy with a lot of heart, Peter Hoogendoorn's sophomore feature contemplates the complexities of fractured familial relationships. Focusing on the struggle of a father and son, who are both equally uncommunicative, to reconnect, it weaves an intimate story driven by wry humour and unexpected heartache. Shot in black-and-white, Three Days Of Fish exhibits a modest space carefully crafted around the two leads. Constantly pulling back in the interactions, the protagonists allow physical distance to become a poignant third character - a reminder of their difficulties, mistakes and ultimately their endearing effort to restore their bond.

Gerrie (Ton Kas), a Dutch man in his sixties returns to his home country for his annual health check-up. He meets with Dick (Guido Pollemans), his adult son, who's expecting to spend some quality time with his father before he returns to Portugal. From the get-go, their interaction is stiff, greeting each other with a firm, yet formal handshake. It becomes clear Gerrie does not approve of Dick's lifestyle, which involves the peculiar practice of selling discarded items after scanning them with his phone. At his daughter Nadia's (Neidi Dos Santos Livramento) house, Gerrie feels more comfortable, dropping some of the coldness displayed back at the bus station. While Dick embraces his half-sister's family, he feels left out, especially under the steely eyes of his father, who's always eager to correct him.

Copy picture

Dick comes along for all of Gerrie's visits and obligations, prompting a series of droll moments that speak volumes about their inability to connect. The lumbering son trudges behind the scrawny, but tidy father, in the hope of finally spending some time together, instead of just running errands. Hoogendoorn crafts the tension around space and body which cinematographer Gregg Telussa captures candidly, usually keeping both protagonists within the frame. The black-and-white preference suits the clumsy interactions, highlighting small gestures that shelter them from frank discussion. This naturalistic perspective on surroundings and movement allows the two leads to refine the art of keeping the most awkward physical distance from each other.

Christiaan Verbeek's warm score often fills the palpable silence between the two men. It acts as a kindly companion for what feels like a road movie without a destination - or a bittersweet relationship that goes in roundabouts, refusing the possibility of a necessary heart-to-heart. Even as they share personal news, that moment of openness feels distant. Finding out about his son's anxiety medication, the stoic dad can't bring himself to engage emotionally with the issue. He handles it like another item to check off during his routine visit.

For Dick, routine's got nothing to do with the few days he spends with his restrained father, especially as he suspects this visit might be the last in a long time. A deeply nostalgic character, he wants to explore the past with Gerrie, who exhibits no interest in what he left behind. Opening a storage unit, they have conflicting ideas of what to do with childhood toys. Labelling them as junk, Gerrie, who is put off by his son's hoarding tendencies, orders him to throw them out. Out of these interactions with his father, Dick often comes out as a goof. But away from his dad’s scrutiny, we see Dick’s compassionate character as he supports Bianca (Line Pillet), his girlfriend, through her intense job as a nurse - another aspect that might benefit from the active support of a parent.

Through a clean visual style that highlights facial reactions and elevates the endearing lead performances, Hoogendoorn crafts a father-son dynamic that thrives in dry humour but offers a lot in terms of sympathy. As sobering moments pile up to reach a significant, yet characteristically understated boiling point, it becomes apparent that neither of them can find the right words. And yet, they come to a silent conclusion they should not judge each other and accept the bittersweet state of things as they find it.

Reviewed on: 30 Jun 2024
Share this with others on...
Gerrie returns to The Netherlands for his annual health check-up, reuniting with his adult son, Dick, who longs to make the most of their brief time together.

Director: Peter Hoogendoorn

Writer: Peter Hoogendoorn

Starring: Ton Kas, Guido Pollemans, Neide dos Santos Silva, Adison dos Reis, Line Pillet, Julian Lima Mendes, Malaysia Petronilia, Anniek Pheifer, Tim Schmidt, Jeremy Luciana, Erik van Wegen, Roman van der Werff, Margo de Geest, Theo Wesselo, Peter Bolhuis

Year: 2024

Runtime: 85 minutes

Country: Netherlands, Belgium


Karlovy 2024

Search database: