Films: Matterhorn

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Netherlands, 2013, 87 Minute Running Time
Genre/Subjects: Dark Comedy, Drama, Social Issues
Program: Focus on National Cinema: Netherlands
Language: Dutch English Subtitles

DIRECTOR: Diederik Ebbinge
Producer: Gijs van de Westelaken
Editor: Michiel Reichwein
Screenwriter: Diederik Ebbinge
Cinematographer: Dennis Wielaert
Principal Cast: Rene van 't Hof, Ton Kas

Writer-director Diederik Ebbinge’s first theatrical feature follows devout Calvinist widower Fred (Ton Kas) as he goes about his tedious, heavily regimented routine. As he takes on another ordinary day, Fred spots a familiar drifter, Theo (Rene van ’t Hof), whom he accuses of conning a neighbor. Realizing that the mentally impaired Theo is truly needy, the lonely Fred brings the homeless stranger into his home, dourly offering him a meal and bed (in a measure of his slightly defective Christian charity). As Matterhorn progresses, the two men establish a disciplined daily schedule with the childlike, nearly silent Theo imperfectly copying his glum host.

Waking after an epic binge, Fred discovers Theo outside, dressed in his dead wife’s clothes as he is tormented by the neighborhood children. Graffiti reading “Sodom and Gomorrah” follows, as does Theo’s mistaken belief that Fred has asked him to marry—something Theo agrees to, and about which he later boasts to a nosy neighbor. Fred, too, agrees to the union, despite both his and Theo’s heterosexual pasts. Ultimately, Fred’s family history, one that involves an estranged son, will provide some degree of explanation for his sudden shift of proclivities. It will also add an unexpected psychological complexity to this otherwise farcical queer comedy.

Combining gay-themed comedy, a mentally impaired protagonist, and a feeling for the flat local landscape, Matterhorn provides an especially representative and even more entertaining entry into this year’s Dutch film spotlight.

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