Pssst, want to check out Kleine Teun in our new look?
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Alex van Warmerdam is a director/screenwriter/actor who hails from the Netherlands. Oh, he's also a painter. Kleine Teun was his fourth directorial effort which he wrote, directed and acted in. He also gets his wife Annet Malherbe in on the action, who plays his for-the-screen wife as well. It's not the first time she's been in one of his movies either.
Kleine Teun was originally screened in the Un Certain Regard section of the 1998 Cannes Film Festival. Tueur à gages was the winner in that category for 1998 but I can say that I preferred Kleine Teun a little bit more. The movie starts off without any surprises for the most part before completely losing its mind. It's worth a watch to say the least.
Brand (Alex van Warmerdam) is an everyman farmer who is unable to read. He's been with his wife Keet (Annet Malherbe) for twenty years and she's fed up with his refusal to learn how to read. She surprises him with a personal tutor the next day after having read the subtitles to a movie one too many times for Brand. Lena (Ariane Schluter) is young, attractive and Brand is instantly smitten. Tension builds up pretty quick before an extremely bizarre arrangement is made in an attempt to appease the situation.
The humour in Kleine Teun is quiet and reserved before basically disappearing completely. I was expecting more of a comedy/drama movie when I sat down but that's not really what Kleine Teun is at all. It starts off as one, but quickly changes tone. I don't say that in a critical way because the tonal shift was gentle and well done. As I look back at the film now, I can clearly see some things which I thought were funny at first but aren't really anymore.
The story that Alex van Warmerdam's has written is an odd one and bizarrely creepy given the role he assigned his wife. I'm sure they both had a laugh about it during the making of it but boy, is it ever weird. Annet Malherbe was nominated for best actress at the European Film Awards and the Netherlands Film Festival Awards which she really did earn. The final ten minutes or so of her screen time are absolutely chilling.
The film takes place mostly in or around Brand and Keet's farmhouse, but that's a good thing. It's a great setup and the single location never gets stale. There's also basically no score to speak of which just heightens the effects of the dialogue and the mounting tension. van Warmerdam and Schluter also put on nice performances and have good chemistry together.
Kleine Teun is a movie that slowly builds itself up before it's big climax. It's slow, calculating and it's bolstered by the performances of its actors. I keep talking about the climax but it really is worth the wait. Really, my stomach was doing belly flops until the denouement. Kleine Teun is wonderfully bizarre and Alex van Warmerdam is pretty lucky to have Annet Malherbe as his wife. She must be pretty damn cool to be OK with playing the role that she did.
Weird but good. Excellent pacing & cinematography.
I love how the page for a Dutch movie has an Asian poster :) It's really cute though!
The movie itself is great, a fantastically absurd psychological drama.
That is the best way I could describe it.
It's really just a great movie and like with almost all of Alex van Warmerdam's movies I can already tell this will become a favorite and a movie that I will re-watch many times.
to see which of your friends have seen this movie!