Friday, 15 March 2013

meisjes (d. geoffrey enthoven, w. chris craps, jean-claude van rijckeghem)

This is the kind of film which they make in the UK starring Bill Nighy, Judi Dench or Geraldine McEwan. An unabashed, formulaic crowd pleaser. It's set in an obscure Belgian town and tells the story of three elderly women who reform the trio they used to have forty years ago. This is part of Claire’s mission to reconnect with her wayward son, Sid, who used to be something in music but is now going nowhere. Sid’s music is not the kind of music which elderly women are supposed to like. Some tracks are a kind of grinding R&B, others more trip-hoppy, perhaps. But somehow he and the singers manage to find some kind of middle ground. The action builds towards the climactic concert where the film subverts itself neatly. Rather than a triumphant finale, Claire collapses and her incipient alzheimers emerges full-blown. The concert does take place, but it does so in her mind.

This twist saves the film from drifting into a sea of sentimentality. This isn’t a film I would ever have been likely to watch, were it not for the blind tasting of Cinemateca. How it arrived here I have no idea. The plotting is as obvious as a game of tic tac toe, and the act of creating a film based on the three glamorous grannies reeks of a calculated marketing technique. However, within the confines of its ambition, the film works, more or less. It’s effective, efficient and shows that the judicious application of the disciplines of cinema should be enough to create a functional 90 minutes of celluloid.

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