Not so Cool
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 12/13/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This film COOL! is the last film made by Theo van Gogh, a vociferous advocate for free speech and the great-great-grandson of Theo van Gogh, brother of the famous Vincent van Gogh, before he was murdered in 2004 by Muslim extremist following a television documentary on the mistreatment of women in the Islam sector. That fact alone gives some reason to watching this low budget, moderately effective movie. One wonders what other projects might have followed from this man's creative output: COOL! is not a great epitaph.
Life in contemporary city streets in Holland finds a small group of Moroccan adolescents whose rather gentle leader is Abdel (Fouad Mourigh), challenged by a life of idealism but propelled by the financial rewards of small crime. One major, though young, gangster is Prof (Johnny de Mol) who manipulates Abdel's boys into a bank heist arranged by Prof and his girl Mabel (Katja Schuurman). The heist is thwarted by undercover cops and Abdel and his gang are placed in a reformatory school where they are to learn the ways to fit into society rather than remain on the unsuccessful periphery. They resist at first but gradually learn though group therapy the benefits of self respect, respect for their fellowmen, and finding goals for turning their nebulous lives around. They are offered passes from the school and during one of those passes an incident occurs when tempted to return to their old ways, an incident that capitalizes on the reform school teachings.
van Gogh's technique for filming this rather lack-luster story was to utilize Hip Hop not only for the background music but also for conveying some of the dialogue of the film. That impairs involvement as it creates more of a vaudeville atmosphere to a serious story. The cast simply isn't strong enough to pull off this caper film, despite some fine moments from Mourigh and Schuurman. The message is clear but the method dilutes it into a too blatant form of preaching. In Dutch and Arabic with subtitles. Grady Harp, December 05"