Movie Magazine International

Little Sister

Netherlands - 1995

Movie Review By Heather Clisby

Released by Facets Video just last month, "Little Sister" is a Dutch film with English subtitles from writer and director, Robert Jan Westdijk. The film presents a very complicated brother-sister relationship, one that contains secrets begging to be explored.

The earthy and sensual Kim van Kooten is Daantje, a struggling fashion designer who opens her door one day to find her long-lost brother, Martyn, at the doorstep, wearing a video camera and filming her. This how the entire film is digested, through Martyn's lens – though he is not always in command of it.

Daantje is immediately uncomfortable and the relationship seems tortured and wrong from the film's beginning. Martyn simply wants to do a documentary on her life, he says, to film her every move and record her "reactions" to things. These things being some incriminating home video of bro & sis at play when they were young 'uns. Even the past is portrayed through video and photographs – a clever and consistent theme.

Bit by bit, Martyn alienates Daantje from her friends and lover, Ramon, played with gritty sulk by Roeland Fernhout. Martyn wants Daantje all to himself and tries forcing her to watch the home movies but she can't. Just when we start to hate Martyn and dismiss him into Creepsville, the real story starts to reveal itself. Why does Daanjte let him run her life? What is she hiding? The conclusion exposes a childhood innocence misunderstood by adults.

The film is brave, turning over an old stone to explore the creepy crawlies that have been hiding underneath. There are uncomfortable moments, scenes that make one's skin crawl; incest is one of the most incomprehensible of subjects and once the characters sift through years of shame, they eventually look at it, dead in the eye.

Still, the film manages a few drops of humor. When Daantje finally kicks Martyn out of her home while he wails, "But I have no place to go!" where do you think he ends up? At the Hotel Tabu, of course.

Westdijk and he crew have finished what "sex, lies and videotape" and "Blair Witch Project" only started. The story of "Little Sister" is told with a camera inside a camera all the way through, letting the actors come off as real characters - sad ones, truly, but real, nonetheless.

© 2001 - Heather Clisby - Air Date: 3/28/01

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