Voor een verloren soldaat [1992]

02Mar12 – 4 – Voor een verloren soldaat [For a Lost Soldier] (Roeland Kerbosch: 1992)

I wish FOR A LOST SOLDIER (Voor een verloren soldaat, 1992) were a better movie. As it is, it’s not good enough to overlook its problems nor bad enough to get worked up about. It’s just kind of blah. That said, the depiction of the 13 year old Jeroen rang true, to my own experience anyway, and I commend the movie for that. In fact that handling of the issue of a barely adolescent boy’s uncomplicated acceptance of his sexuality, and Maarten Smit’s performance as the young Jeroen, are what save the movie from everything else about it.

FOR A LOST SOLDIER feels as if it were made on the cheap, or for television, and that threadbare cheapness runs right through everything from the mostly bad acting (I’ll single out Andrew Kelley’s performance as Walt as being so egregiously bad that it wouldn’t look out of place in the non-porn parts of a hard-core porn flick), to the directing, to the production values. And the framing sections with the grown up Jeroen mooning over his memories while choreographing a godawful piece of crap ballet are wince-making.

And may I say a word about the copy I saw? Almost the entire movie was subtitled in English, including the English dialogue, but the subtitles were bizarre to say the least. The Dutch dialogue was rendered in affectless English, so that two Dutch women watching a line of Canadian soldiers in jeeps come roaring into their village say to each other in an uninflected monotone something the subtitles tell us is “We’re liberated. The war is over”* and they look none too happy about it either. The English dialogue is bad enough on its own, but it’s subtitled phonetically *into* English by someone who clearly doesn’t know the language at all well. My favorite bit, though, is that the few lines of German dialogue (Nazi soldiers and so on) are subtitled as “(Foreign language)”. Yep. Sentimental schmaltz. 4/10. [3/2/12]

*It put me in mind of the brilliant moment in THE TEN COMMANDMENTS when a young Hebrew, trudging along with his fellow Hebrews, points to some laborers working on a pyramid and says, “Look, Father! Nubians!”

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