Films: Sonny Boy

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Sonny Boy

Sonny Boy

Netherlands, 2010, 132 Minute Running Time
Genre/Subjects: Drama, Historical/Period, Romance, War
Program: Contemporary World Cinema
Language: German, Dutch English Subtitles

DIRECTOR: Maria Peters
Producer: Hans Pos, Dave Schram
Editor: Ot Louw
Screenwriter: Maria Peters, Pieter van de Waterbeemd
Principal Cast: Ricky Koole, Sergio Hasselbaink, Marcel Hensema, Frits Lambrechts, Misha Hulshof

From the Netherlands comes an emotional drama about forbidden romance, Nazi brutality, and wartime courage. Adapted by director Maria Peters from a bestseller by Annejet van der Zihl, this is the unlikely tale of Rika (Ricky Koole), a middle-class Dutch wife and mother of four, and Waldemar (Sergio Hasselbaink), a black immigrant from Surinam who's 17 years her junior. Against all the odds—and under the pitiless gaze of stern, prewar Dutch society—they fall in love, have a child out of wedlock (the titular Sonny Boy), and try to navigate the terrors of World War II in occupied Holland. None of this seems remotely possible, but it's based on a true story. The couple's son, Waldemar Nods II, grew up to be a journalist who first told the tale of his parents' bravery. Van der Zihl's novel followed.

Rika is a willful and independent sort, but breaking away from Willem (Marcel Hensema), her glowering philanderer of a husband, is difficult. When the struggling mother takes in the young Surinamese business student as a boarder, the neighbors begin to talk—and when she gives birth to his baby, they're incensed. Come wartime, the Germans and their Aryan racial fantasies are another matter altogether—especially when the Nods agree to harbor Jews in the attic of their seaside guest inn. Add a sadistic SS man, three concentration camps, and a tragic bombing error: this extraordinary story is almost too much to bear.

(Unsubtitled trailer)

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