EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|A QUESTION OF SILENCE (DE STIITE ROND CHRISTINE M.) (director/writer: Marleen Gorris; cinematographer: Frans Bromet; editor: Hans van Dongen; music: Lodewijk de Boer; cast: Edda Barends (Christina M.), Cox Habbema (Court Appointee Psychiatrist, Janine Van Den Bos), Nelly Frijda (Waitress), Henriette Tol (Secretary), Edyy Brugman (Ruud Van Den Bos), Dolf de Vries (Boutique Manager), Cees Coolen (Police Inspector), Onno Molenkamp (Pathologist), Hans Croiset (Judge); Runtime: 92; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Mat- thijs van Heijningen; Embassy Home Entertainment; 1982-Netherlands-in Dutch with English subtitles)|
uncompromising polemic at least isn't dogmatic."
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A provocative, didactic, propaganda rad-fem film by Dutch
director Marleen Gorris ("Antonia's
in-your-face political, stylish and shrill. It has three unconnected
women, of different ages, occupations and backgrounds, spontaneously
conspire to brutally murder and mutilate the mild-mannered male owner
of an Amsterdam mall boutique, after a housewife is caught shoplifting.
Dr. Janine Van Den Bos (Cox
Habbema) is appointed by the court to determine their sanity, and goes
about interviewing them. The shrink finds the thirtysomething Christine
M. (Edda Barends), the catatonic housewife with three kids
and married to a civil servant, unwilling to talk because she feels no
men ever listen to her anyway; the aging divorced waitress, Ann Jongman
(Nelly Frijda), too garrulous and too vocal a foe of
married life to be appealing, tells of her husband deserting her; and
the intelligent single twentysomething executive secretary, Andrea
Tol), is bitter that her mom nags her to marry to be normal, enraged
that she knows more than the board of trustees at her firm but doesn't
get promoted because of sexual discrimination and is unhappy with the
shrink's line of questioning that's coming only from the male point of
Flashbacks follow the three
mundane stories of these three obviously deranged ordinary women, whose
hidden motive for the murder (there's no apparent outward motive
deduced) is that they all find men intolerable because they were all
treated badly by various men in their lives. At the court trial Janine
declares the women are sane and after great laughter becomes contagious
among the accused the shrink walks out of the proceedings, supposedly
with a raised consciousness about feminism, to unite with her women
clients (sisterhood) in laughter to reject the absurdity of how the
male's view the proceedings and how they look at the world differently
than her sex. The uncompromising polemic at least isn't dogmatic,
instead it's childishly revengeful, shocking, unsettling and
The director's low-budget debut feature shows off her assured directorial skills and her able handling of the irrational plot, as she's helped by a strong script and by getting good performances from her ladies. The thesis is convincing if one is a believer in Ms. Gorris's far-fetched viewpoint that murdering a man can be justified if you lump all men together as pigs, who treat women like objects. I don't believe the feminist cause can be well served by such an outrageous position, as the extreme point taken as gospel by the collective killer fems seems at best meant only as a bargaining chip for further discussion between the sexes. For me, it only closed off further discussion and merely served as a turning off point that even went so far as to show the happily married Janine come to hate her lawyer husband (Edyy Brugman) by the film's end, only because he dared to disagree with her. The ladies don't seem too tolerant and their cold-blooded murder can only be excused by reasons of insanity and not by some spurious feminist argument, as this well-made but antagonistic pic wants you to believe. It's the filmmaker's belief that in Holland women have been conspicuously silent about their second-class status and are not vocal in demanding their full rights, but it's a stretch to say that women therefore have the right to castrate men--there must be a better way to make a fem case.
REVIEWED ON 2/23/2011 GRADE: C+
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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