|Michael A. Maynez|
The 1998 Academy Award for the best foreign film went to the Netherlands, for Mike van Diem, “Character”. He directed his adaptation of the 1938 Dutch novel that was a true recreation of the 1920s, in Rotterdam. The energy and force that he provokes in bringing this to the screen, with actors, who feel as strongly as he does is a miracle in the making. He elicits performance of the very first category from the leading performers to leave you gasping at its gallows humor.
The basic story line one of greed, revenge, pride and determination. Jan Decleir, plays Dreverjavem, a man who fathered a son out of wedlock, with the total presence of evil and who offers to marry the woman he wrong, played by Betty Schuurman, in a role with minimum dialogue, but very lucid silences and looks etched in pain, sorrow and pride. The son played handsomely by Fedja van Huett, who is determined to succeed, even though both parents are at odds, gives a performance of strong determination. His tormented would be love affair with a secretary played by Tammar Van Den, a striking Dutch actress, who cannot understand why he is so dense about her constant come-ons.
Mike van Diem has the luxury of having a sensitive cinematographer that brings Rotterdam in all its glory and beauty and moodiness. Roger Stoffers does not miss a beat in the shooting of this motion picture. There are so many small roles that hit hard and enhance the work of a real artist like Mike van Diem, like Victor Low, as and intense and friendly barrister and Hans Kesting is a young communist determined to make the whole world red. Isn’t it any wonder that this movie won. Certainly the road to great recognition is through great artistry and creativity. Can’t wait to see his next piece of work.
Character aka Karakte
Sony Picture Classics
Directed by: Mike van Diem
Produced by: Laurens Geels