Papa's Song

  • 2000
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Drama, Mystery

Despite having enough loose ends to weave a carpet, this psychological thriller from Dutch director Sander Francken boasts an intriguing premise. After years of marriage, a staid Dutch judge begins to suspect his Antillean wife isn't as sane as he once thought. Nico Venema (Rene Van Asten) and his wife, Shirley (Romana Vrede), have been taking care of Shirley's...read more

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Reviewed by Ken Fox
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Despite having enough loose ends to weave a carpet, this psychological thriller from Dutch director Sander Francken boasts an intriguing premise. After years of marriage, a staid Dutch judge begins to suspect his Antillean wife isn't as sane as he once thought.

Nico Venema (Rene Van Asten) and his wife, Shirley (Romana Vrede), have been taking care of Shirley's nephews (Tyronne Meerzorg and Vergill Ford) while her sister Magda (Lisette Merenciana) focuses on saving her own marriage back in the Dutch Antilles. Shirley, who can't have children, is fond of

the boys; so fond that when Magda arrives to take her sons home, Shirley becomes slightly unhinged. She tries to delay their departure with obscure threats, and emotionally blackmails Magda into helping her have a child of her own. But Nico realizes that under the bickering, something else is

going on, a secret rooted in the past and involving Shirley and Magda's late father. Francken, who cowrote the screenplay with Norman de Palm, does a good job at maintaining an air of mystery. Too good, perhaps; scattered throughout the film are mysterious flashbacks, glimpses of what we

eventually learn are Nico's memories of his own childhood in Santa Cruz. Something happened there as well, but Francken isn't telling, nor do we learn much about Nico as an adult. He becomes little more than a colorless sounding board for the sisters' rancor and, as an outsider in his own house, a

vague symbol of the Dutch colonial presence in the Antilles. The rest of the film feels similarly unfocused and insubstantial, but it's always watchable. Vrede and Merenciana are powerful, magnetic performers who know how to throw a fit with style: Hardly a glance passes between them that doesn't

lead to a blowup, a slammed door or a pair of hands around the other's throat.

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  • Released: 2000
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: Despite having enough loose ends to weave a carpet, this psychological thriller from Dutch director Sander Francken boasts an intriguing premise. After years of marriage, a staid Dutch judge begins to suspect his Antillean wife isn't as sane as he once tho… (more)

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