Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Pavlik Jansen op de Haar, Jan Decleir, Fedja van HuÍt, Betty Schuurman, Tamar van den Dop
Director: Mike van Diem
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
When the city's most feared bailiff is discovered dead, the last man to see him alive, a young self-taught lawyer, has a story to tell. Genre: Foreign Film - Other Rating: R Release Date: 4-FEB-2003 Media Type: DVD
Packs a Lot of Dramatic Punch
Bruce Kendall | Southern Pines, NC | 09/04/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"CHARACTER is all about tough love. Extremely tough. It is about family. In this instance, an extremely distant pair of parents and a young man seeking his identlty. It's also about great psychological drama, superior period design and unbelievably assured freshman filmmaking from director Mike Van Diem. It's also, as the title implies, about "building character." The father, Dreverhaven, has some unusual character building techniques, to put it mildly. He at one point tells the young man's mother that he will strangle 9/10s of the life out of son Jacob, but the remaining 1/10ths will make him strong. And just for good measure, he may take the last tenth as welll.
Jan Decleir, as Dreverhaven, is a revelation. He's built like Gerard Depardieu and is even more preposessing than that fine actor on screen. He would make a great Javert or Lear in some future production. Victor Löw, as Jacob's mentor and elder friend, De Gankeelar, is unlike anyone you will have seen on screen or stage. With an impossibly jutting jaw and unique mode of speech, he is the ultimate character actor. The entire cast is splendid. I'm not at all familiar with Dutch Cinema, and am not even entirely sure the term isn't an oxymoron. This film, however, can stand beside anything in contemporary cinema. Now I just have to dig up the novel by Ferdinand Borewijk, from which the movie was adapted. It's such a compelling story that I'm sure the novel will be excellent, as well.Five Stars and counting.BEK"
Character - a few additions
freed schmitter | Amsterdam (the Netherlands) | 06/07/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A few remarks and additions to the reviews so far. - The place where the story is situated is near and in the old harbour in Rotterdam (the Netherlands). It was filmed partially on the fifth floor of an old harbour building, with additional scenes in Antwerp (if i recall it correct), in Germany and in Poland. In Rotterdam, i was part of one scene. As a professional calligrapher, i had earlier prepared several properties for the film, and then was asked to be on stage, too. Mike van Diem made a lasting impression, a friendly and capable director indeed. The hours of waiting, the minutes of shooting, resulted in a few seconds of appearance in the final version of the movie - that's obviously the way it goes. In the last half minute, the hand of Jan Decleir (seemingly - it's actually my hand) writes the signature of the testament. It was a small contribution to a masterpiece, which is strongly based on two novels of F. Bordewijk, 'Karakter' and 'Katadreuffe'. Charakter is the kind of movie that is worth to have on video. Be it for the enticing music (Paleis van Boem), be it for the convincing main characters (the divinely beautiful Tamar van den Dop, the talented Fedja van Huet, the majestic Jan Declair), or the intriguing story. Even my critical son of 19 could admit the permeating quality, which is remarkable for someone who mainly grew up with Quentin Tarantino and similar. - Having seen this film several times, the tragedy of the bailiff Dreverhaven appeared in a new light. The ruthless tyrant was deeply unsatisfied with himself, and he who punished so many, beseeched to be punished himself - the natural law of balance. Who else than his own son could be the executor, in the moment of his greatest triumph, when he achieved to be an attorney. That is where this oscar-winning movie ends... and begins."
Heartbreaking and Extraordinary
A reader | New York City | 12/21/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It's ironic that "Character" won the Oscar for Best Foreign Film the same year that "Titanic" won for Best Picture. "Character" makes "Titanic" look like a grade-school production of "Gilligan's Island." One of the most powerful films I've ever seen, it was painful and difficult to watch, and absolutely brilliant. With not a false note anywhere, the epic scope of the story, the acting and the cinematography drew me in and broke my heart. Not to be missed."
Dark, but illuminating
Dr. Emil "Tom" Shuffhausen | Central Gulf Coast | 12/04/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Without attempting to recount or even summarize the plot of CHARACTER, let me simply say that it is a stunning work of art. The acting is arresting and utterly convincing. Each character represents heartbreak and tragedy. Even the cold, hard father, Dreverhaven (brilliantly played by Jan Declier) is revealed to have a human side...albeit a terribly flawed and scarred humanity. There is tremendous pathos in the final scenes between Dreverhaven and his son, Katadreuffe (the amazing Fedja van Huet). Even as Katadreuffe explodes in violence and rage, the sorrow and sense of loss is powerfully palpable. Van Diem's direction is flawless. He allows the actors to say so much without using many words. The slow, steady pace allows the plot to simmer before reaching a boil. The longing between Katadreuffe and his lovely co-worker is incredibly heartrending. Katadreuffe's complex relationships with his mother and his mentor are also quite striking. Van Diem gets the most out of very simple gestures...a look, a smile, a touch...perhaps the most dramatic and emotional moment in the film is when Dreverhaven extends his hand to Katadreuffe or when he later whispers, "Help me, Jacob." Reviewers have invoked Kafka, Dickens, Shakespeare, and Oedipus in attempting to describe this film. All of those apply, and I don't think it's a stretch to say that this film belongs in the worthy company of those great stories. (Let me say that the father-son relationship here reminds me in a strange way of a certain famous Johnny Cash song, though I will let you guess which one.) CHARACTER is not a good "popcorn movie," or even really a good "date movie." But it is a great film; the emotions unleashed and the questions raised will stay with the viewer long after the credits have rolled."