| This coming-of-age drama takes place in 1945 and brings home the personal loss everyone suffered in World War II. 14-year-old Michiel (Martijn Lakemeier) looks out his bedroom window at the German soldiers occupying his small village in Holland. He dreams of taking part in this great adventure unaware of the risks associated with the ugly realities.
His world changes drastically when a British plane crash lands nearby. He locates the hiding place of RAF pilot Jack (Jamie Campbell Bower). He befriends Jack and brings him food. He even takes his older sister Erica (Melody Klaver), who is a nurse, to treat Jack's infected injured leg. Michiel inadvertently becomes part of a Resistance plan to get Jack safely back to friendly soil.
Other key figures in the story include Michiel's father Johan (Raymond Thiry), who serves as the town's mayor, Michiel's mother Lia (Anneke Blok) and Michiel's uncle Ben (Yorick van Wageningen).
Reminiscent of "Eye of the Needle" (1981), the film is highly steeped in espionage and leads to an astounding twist and a last act revelation. The most exciting action sequence involves a chase between a horse-drawn carriage and motorized vehicles. Michiel makes a startling transformation before our eyes. After what he has experienced, it is hard for him to be a boy again and return to a normal life.
Writer-director Martin Koolhoven had more mature audiences in mind when he adapted for the screen the 1972 young adult novel by Jan Terlouw, the former Dutch Deputy Prime Minister. Koolhoven is a fan of spaghetti Westerns and brings similar elements into this movie.
This drama was voted the best Dutch movie of 2008 by the Dutch press. It was the official submission by Netherlands to the 2010 Academy Awards. It made the shortlist of nine films in the Best Foreign Language Film category.
The acting is superb, with Lakemeier the anchor surrounded by a talented ensemble. The soundtrack is effective in ratcheting up the suspense. Other strengths are the cinematography, sound and production design. The movie was filmed in the Netherlands and Lithuania.
Except for some explicit language, the movie is suitable viewing for teenagers accompanied by an adult family member. The dialogue is in Dutch and German with easy-to-read English subtitles. Opening for a limited engagement at the Glenwood Red Bridge and the Tivoli in Westport.
Keith Cohen "The Movie Guy"