Thursday, November 01, 2012
What seems to be Boudewijn Koole's feature film debut, has done mainly documentaries and TV movies, is an impressive oeuvre that looks and feels like made by a more experienced, accomplished filmmaker as turns an often seen story into an amazing lyrical visuals and narrative film that will engage you very fast even when you do not particularly like kids stories, just like me.
Been delaying watching as usually have a hard time relating to kids stories plus most directors seem to not being able to extract from kids actors outstanding performances; but this film absolutely is the exception as not only Rick Lens performance as Jojo is fantastic but director magnificent storytelling style engaged me fast. With a narrative that you will not fully decode until almost the end, beautiful visuals that eases what you are seeing plus engage you perhaps as much as story if not more, Koole created a very uplifting movie that will explode many emotions and perhaps bring one or two tears to your eyes. A true delightful ride that will please your eyes and make you really feel for Jojo.
Film tells the story of nine/ten years-old Jojo that goes into battle mode with his father; you can see that he's left alone too much, finds some solace talking by phone to his absent mother while telling not the truth about his father, he is aggressive and easily explodes and so on and so forth. But something changes when Jojo finds a baby jackdaw as now he not only has a companion, someone to take care for but also someone that helps him to ease his daily pain. How the story evolves you have to see it as don't want spoilers to ruin the film for you, but let me reinforce that is an uplifting story with a happy great end and message.
As Koole says in an interview this film is all about the casting and definitively agree as he was able to extract from non-actor Lens a magnificent performance but I also believe that film is extremely beautiful to watch with some scenes that look and feel like visual poetry, extraordinary hand-held camera scenes that contribute to the narrative, amazing stills (yes, photographs) that made me go into awe mode, absolutely fantastic framing, editing and almost perfect production values are ALSO elements that made this film a great art piece while telling a very compelling story that will entertain you. Many call film unpretentious and this time I have to agree but that doesn't mean that this is a masterful piece of art too.
Film premiered at the 2012 Belinale where it won the Best First Feature and the Crystal Bear in Generation Kplus section plus the Young Audience Award of the 2012 European Film Awards, as yes is a film that young children could enjoy as much as their parents. My only concern is that parents are adults and what they might see could be different to what children could see. Also as we know film is Netherlands submission to Oscar and truly I will not be surprised if film makes it to the shortlist of nine and even if gets a well-deserved nomination; but with the average age of foreign language committee members you never know what they will do.
A must be seen film that could please general audiences plus those that like art cinema; not often I'm able to say art and masses together but this film really fits both.
Watch trailer @MOC