Eva is the only girl in a family of boys and is a one of those girls who has yet to blossom and is hence shunned by the `it girls' at school, and seems to be universally ignored by her family - parents included. She announces that as part of their student exchange programme she will be having a German student staying for two weeks - but they don't bother listening
So Veit turns up without fanfare and immediately makes an impact. He is good looking with an angelic smile, a vegetarian, he does charity work in Africa and has already travelled widely at a yung age - and he is a meditation specialist and ornithologist as well as having perfect English - its enough to make anyone sick, with envy. Well all the girls fancy him and Eva's brother Manual takes a righteous dislike to him as he is seen clearly as major competition.
Well he weaves his charm and soon has the entire family questioning themselves and all start to reinvent their lives and like all rebirths it can only be painful. Eva meanwhile can't help her emotions and is falling deeply under his thrall.
This is a wonderful film. I received a copy from Film Movement for review purposes and it is the best I have seen this year from them which is saying a lot as they have all been good to excellent. It is in Dutch, a bit of German and a lot of English and all with good subs where and if needed. This has a down to earth charm, satire and humour all wrapped up in a film that is directed (Michiel Ten Horn) and acted superbly - simply can not recommend highly enough and it also has two extra short films from the same director, so not only a fantastic main feature but two extras making this unmissable.
"The Deflowering of Eva van End" (TDEE hereafter) is a movie that won't appeal to everybody. For instance, if you like cookie-cutter movies that you can easily categorize as "chick flick", "romcom", "coming of age" or movies that don't feature complex characters with both strengths and flaws: then you won't want to watch this movie.
This is not an unfamiliar story: a superficially normal but mostly dysfunctional family has their rate of change increased by the arrival of an outside influence. In this case, the family is the van End family, a suburban Dutch family. Father Evert is a mid-level manager in a factory that cranks out a Dutch variant of hot dog called a "frikandel"), and his wife Etty are deep in the midst of their 25th anniversary preparations. Their oldest son Erwin is a young adult still battling acne and on the verge of moving in with his adoring girlfriend. Youngest son Manuel is a mean-spirited teen fueled by drugs and rebellion. The movie's title character, Eva, is an awkward, introverted high schooler, who seemingly fits in neither at school nor at home. Finally, not physically present, but essential to the story is the memory of another deceased son.
The change agent in this movie is German exchange student Veit, who Eva is sponsoring for a two-week stay. Since her pronouncements of his arrival went unheard in the chaotic exchanges of the van End household, his arrival comes as a surprise. Veit's influences are felt by everybody in the van End family. The title tells you exactly what influence Veit has on Eva; this is secondary to his influences on the other family members as the two weeks play out in the movie.
Don't be fooled by the DVD cover, which evokes "Juno" or "Little Miss Sunshine". While this movie has comedic moments, it is also dark, violent and deals explicitly with issues of sexuality and contains scenes of rather intense violence.
Although a Dutch movie with English subtitles, one premise of the student exchange is to allow participants to practice their English; as a result, large portions of the movie are spoken in English.
The conclusion of this movie features a cavalcade of events touches everybody in the van End family. The changes are for both better and worse, and director Michiel ten Horn doesn't serve the answers up under a neon sign.You'll have to figure out for yourself who you think the winners and losers are when the smoke clears (literally!).
Interesting movie and well worth the 94 minutes you'll spend with the van Ends.
Note: Film Movement provided this DVD for review purposes.
on 7 December 2013
The seventh entry in the Film on Friday series is The Deflowering of Evan Van End . This is the feature film debut of Dutch Director Michel ten Horn.
The Deflowering of Eva Van Endwas an official selection for over ten film festivals.
Eva quietly announces at the family dinner table that a German exchange student will be staying with them for two weeks. No one listens to or hears what Eva has to say. Her father is oblivious, her mother preoccupied and her older brother is focused on his own life. Her other brother is unfocused - stoned most of the time.
The first few scenes were both funny and poignant. The family situation is not that unbelievable. I felt incredibly sad for Eva - brilliantly played by Vivian Dierickx. She's awkward, overweight, ostracised at school and ignored at home.
When Veit (Rafael Gareisen) arrives, he is a blond god, seemingly good at everything and anything and uncannily able to target what each family member seems to need.
But, although this film has been described as a dark comedy and the cover art seems to support that view, I found that it took a more serious tone than I initially imagined it would.
Veit is the catalyst that triggers upheaval and great change within this dysfunctional family. Secrets are revealed, scabs are picked off and change is inevitable. All for the good? Well, I think each viewer would have a different answer. As the film ended, I wondered about Eva's place in her family - things have changed, but it is still not spelled out. But the last group shot is telling. ten Horn also uses a 'falling star' metaphor to great effect.
After the film, while reading the liner notes, I discovered that the idea for this film sprang from ten Horn's own experience with a German exchange student. Makes me wonder which bits are truth.
One of the addition short films included is Basta - ten Horn's film thesis, that specialized in animation. The Deflowering of Eva Van End also has a bit of an animation feel to it. There are many short shots that showcase what the director wants us to see, then quickly cuts away. As the film picks up speed in the last twenty minutes, the cutaways multiply. We know what is happening to each family member and are just waiting to see how those moments will come together and what it means for the Van End family.
The Deflowering of Eva Van End is a strangely moving, quirky film. Bits of it are squirmy, bits are sad, bits are affirming, but as a package it's very, very watchable. I quite enjoyed it.
*Netherlands / 2012 / Dutch, English & German with English subtitles / 98 min
As mentioned, there are two short films included, both directed by ten Horn. I didn't enjoy Basta at all. Perhaps it was the style (slightly macabre Whoville tone with no real dialogue) or the material, but it was a miss for me. The second, Arie, was quite good. A realistic view, rather than the animated style is more appealing to this viewer. And I liked the idea - an old man's pet bird dies, but with an unexpected ending)