Its 7:06 pm
The cheetah and I got a pleasant surprise last week in the mail. We got the first film release from our friends at Artsploitation Films for 2020. As some of you may know,the cheetah and I have reviewed a few of their films and we are big fans of this very cool studio. They specialize in mostly foreign films and they compare very favorably to IFC in our book. In looking at the press sheet for the Dutch film “We”,it appears that this film is going to be a doozy……so let’s go check it out,shall we?
The movie opens up with various voiceovers talking about a trial that going on after a young person has been killed. We are treated to several overhead shots of The Netherlands and how open and beautiful it is.
Then we see several different families getting ready and heading to court,its clear that the families are involved with the proceedings. Then we are taken into the court building and a judge is swearing in a witness to “tell the truth”.
We then are shown four stories about what has brought us to this point through the eyes of some of the kids who were there.
Its the last summer for a close knit of friends,4 boys and 4 girls before they have split apart going to different colleges or maybe planning to join the work force. They have been friends for years and trust each other. Being so young,they all have some sort of sexual feelings for each other but maybe not the way some would hope for.
The leader appears to be Thomas,who comes from a wealthy family but Simon is the most popular one and we see the group from his POV first.
The kids are restless and bored so they decide to go to a overpass and have the girl flash a little bit. As they do,we hear faint sounds of horns and brakes being applied.
Thomas then takes them to a secluded place with an abandoned trailer which they make their hangout. The group drinks and plays sexual games with other. They decide they want to make money fast so they create a porn website which shows all the kids having sex with other but wearing masks.
The kids get more brazen and wild and they take a teacher’s dog from her in broad daylight and end up dragging it along the street. Simon has seen enough and he pedals away on his bike.
The next three stories are from two of the girls,Ruth and Liesl and they tell their stories,Ruth to her parents and Liesl to a psychiatrist who is prepping her as a court witness. Both stories reveal just much worse the summer really was and that Simon’s take wasn’t even close to the real truth.
The group,after Simon left,gets even more mean as the boys encourage the girls to become hookers and they do so willingly. This leads to an incredibly violent abortion scene which shows the group has gone beyond the point of no return and when one of the girls is actually killed during a “game”,the wheels come off……which brings us to the last story,that of Thomas the group’s leader.
In his story he blames an assistant Mayor as being the one behind everything and that the group had no choice but to obey even as we really see what really happened and it is as dark as anything you have recently seen. Thomas accuses the mayor as a man who had abused him as a child and because he was his dad company’s biggest client,he felt he was trapped but in reality he was the ultimate mastermind behind it. Because the mayor wasn’t the shining beacon the town thought he was,well Thomas’s story to the court is believed. His tales of lies and destruction that Thomas told the court has sent a innocent man to jail……and as Simon reconnects with Thomas in October,the two share a terrible truth to each other.
This is a hard watch,I won’t deny that…the violence and destruction left in the wake of these kids is pretty obscene but this is a great movie. Rene Eller’s feature film debut is a masterpiece and a sharp rebuke to parents who aren’t paying close attention to their kids. I think if “We” had been based in the United States like “Kids” was,impact of what we have watched would been lost because we already know who violent and immoral Americans are and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see this.
But in The Netherlands or Belgium? Far more powerful in my opinion. Eller makes many smart choices here….he only told four stories instead of seven,which gave him much more time to peel his apple and showing us how rotten it was. With each reveal,the more uncomfortable you get in the telling and you know by Liesl’s story that the kids are going to get away with their crimes but yet you can’t turn away because you want to see HOW they do.
I loved how cinematographer Maxiame Desmet was allowed to film in daylight,seeing such beautiful country amid such carnage really helped show the contrast between good and evil. Showing the group in the sunlight and openness of the countryside really made what they were doing all that more perverse and twisted,they had no fears of being discovered or stopped which was a scary thought.
The young cast was up to the task,to tell such a story really required the firm hand of Eller as the 8 lead actors were either making thier film debuts or only had a few credits under their belts. Being asked to do so much nudity also required total trust in Eller as well and the cast showed they had that trust in him,while many will say the sex wasn’t needed,I disagree and think it was vital to the story for the most part.
While “We” won’t be a film you may like it is a film you’ll take notice of and never forget. I know we won’t forget anytime soon…..
“We” is unrated for graphic nudity and has a run time of 1 hr and 40 minutes and sadly doesn’t have any special features. This film is subtitled in English.
You can order your copy of “We” by going to the website of Artsploitation Films.
Which film had you talking right after you saw it? Share it with us by dropping a comment below…..