This Dutch film directed by Marleen Gorris won the 1996 Oscar for BestForeign Language Film, which, rather than being an award based on quality, is usually the mark of a film the Academy found to be the least confusing among the nominated entrants. Dutch frequently sounds like English, and whenever Academy voters hear a word of English in a foreign film, they give it extra points because that's less work they have to do. They glance around the theater curiously, wondering if they were the only ones who caught the words "yes, mother" then think that the film must be truly exceptional for allowing them to discover an untapped cinematic insight.
The movie is about four generations of strong-willed women in a small Dutch town who need men like they need gangrene. One is not even sure how Antonia (Willeke Van Ammelrooy) had her daughter, Danielle (Els Dottermans), but when Danielle wants a baby but not a husband, Antonia helps her find a candidate. Danielle's daughter, Therese (Veerle van Overloop), turns out to be a child prodigy, and when she grows up and has Sarah (Thyrza Ravesteign), the birth is also accomplished sans husband.
The film focuses on how these women turn the values of this small town upside-down. Men take a beating. Religion takes a beating. A lot of people, male and female alike, are dragged down from time to time by the unfairness of life.
A hermit named Crooked Finger provides an education for Therese and together they spend an inordinate amount of time discussing Nietzsche and Schopenhauer. Frankly, if I wanted to be thrown into a tizzy about concepts of time and the disgusting qualities of human nature, I'd rather the filmmakers did it in English and not some goofy-sounding "wannabe" language.
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