Escaping from her brutal pimps, Anna is given refuge by Henk, a Dutch farmer whosefinancial plight means he risks losing the land held by his family for generations. Anna is taken on as Henk's housekeeper and, just as slowly as she learns to speak Dutch, she begins transforming his solitary bachelor existence.
Arriving with a raft of festival awards to its credit, this delightful Dutch picture may not be able to boast the visual pyrotechnics of most summer blockbusters but for subtlety and heart, the Algerian-born Karim Tra´dia's debut feature will be difficult to surpass.
Escaping from her brutal pimps, Anna (Hendrickx) is given refuge by Henk (Spijkers), a Groningen farmer whose parlous financial plight means he risks losing the land held by his family for generations. Recovered from her bruises, Anna is taken on as Henk's housekeeper and, just as slowly as she learns to speak Dutch, she begins transforming his solitary bachelor existence. Initially, it's dishes from her native Poland. Then it's choosing his shirts and sharing the sorrow she feels about being separated from her daughter.
One of the most intriguing things about this absorbing, intimate drama is that sooner or later you know that the couple's idyll is going to be shattered.
But what is so disappointing is the manner in which the problem of the pimps is disposed of and the fact that it seems to have no deleterious ramifications. Yet, this is the only charge that can be made against a film so devoted to character, landscape and atmosphere. In a story of so few words, much of the acting is done with the eyes. Whether seeking his approval, learning his language or expressing her growing affection, Anna's gaze never drops from Henk's face, while he, so used to being alone, gradually begins to trust himself to return her looks. The nuanced performances are complemented by the precise attention to detail. Never have a tablecloth and some napkins commented so eloquently upon the state of a relationship. But such a neat touch is typical of this superb film of small gestures and unspoken emotions.
Superb film of small gestures and unspoken emotions