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Netherlands, 2007, 80 Minute Running Time
Genre/Subjects: Drama, Family Issues
Programs: Contemporary World Cinema, Women + FilmLanguage: Dutch English Subtitles
DIRECTOR: Mijke de Jong
Producer: Leontine Petit, Joost de VriesEditor: Dorith VinkenScreenwriter: Jolein Laarman, Mijke de JongCinematographer: Ton PetersPrincipal Cast: Elsie de Brauw, Marcel Musters, Stijn Koomen
Intimacy, isolation and their strange correspondence are at the heart of Stages, which contrasts – in the words of director Mijke de Jong (Bluebird, SDFF 28) – “two extreme forms of communication, noise versus silence,” to gauge the effects of separation on a middle-aged ex-couple and their 17-year-old son.
Although divorced, Martin and Roos have yet to disengage. They meet for dinner in crowded restaurants to dwell on the circumstances that led to their split – as well as those surrounding their son Isaac's increasingly anti-social behavior. But amid the distractions of the public spaces they gravitate toward, they resolve little. Meanwhile, scenes of a nearly mute Isaac engaged in solitary (and quietly unsettling) pursuits stand in stark contrast to those in which his self-absorbed parents argue, ever more fiercely, about the implications of his withdrawal into privacy. When the worlds of parent and child finally meet, the distance between their inhabitants becomes all the more difficult to measure: inextricably tied, can they ever truly connect?
In keeping with the thematic dichotomy between the verbal and the unspoken, closeness and remoteness, de Jong juxtaposes an orderly narrative structure and Ton Peters' highly stylized camera work with her cast's semi-improvised performances – allowing, as she puts it, “the inadequacy of human communication” to “express [itself] in a different way.”
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