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Netherlands, 2011, 119 Minute Running Time
Genre/Subjects: Coming of Age, Drama
Program: Contemporary World CinemaLanguage: Dutch, Polish English Subtitles
DIRECTOR: Christophe van Rompaey
Producer: Els VandevorstEditor: Nico LeunenScreenwriter: Mieke de JongCinematographer: Menno WestendorpPrincipal Cast: Emma Levie, Niels Gomperts, Jeroen Willems, Agata Buzek, Lisa Smit
From producer Els Vandevorst (Winter in Wartime, Dancer in the Dark, Dogville) comes Lena, starring the remarkable Emma Levie in her first film role. Lena is a pretty but overweight 17-year-old. She lives with her abusive and psychologically damaged mother, who’s constantly belittling Lena about her weight. Needing to fit in with her peers, she engages in casual sex with different boys, but unfortunately that tactic just leads to more loneliness.
One night, while riding her scooter, she meets Daan (Niels Gomperts), who seems to be running away from someone. He’s a handsome lad with a killer James Franco smile. They fall in love, and he asks her to move in with him and his widowed father (Jeroen Willems). Lena jumps at the chance, as she can’t wait to leave her uncaring and disturbed mother. But things start to crumble as Lena finds out that Daan’s been keeping a secret from her.
She tells Daan never to lie to her again, and gets him to straighten himself out. She also works on mending the tattered relationship between father and son. It all seems to be going well until Daan’s dad steps out of line. From there, things begin to go awry as Lena’s idyllic new world starts to fall apart.
Director Christophe van Rompaey (Moscow, Belgium, SDFF 31) vividly captures Lena’s emotional pain as a teenager on the outside looking in, and Emma Levie’s brilliant performance brings it home.
- STEVE BELGARD
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