Character

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Dutch director Mike Van Diem's emotionless drama is so chillingly excessive in its rendering of cold human beings that it makes Merchant-Ivory films look like orgy-laden pornos by comparison.

This is the film Charles Dickens would have made had he lived to 200 andsmoked crack his whole life. Dutch director Mike Van Diem's emotionless drama is so chillingly excessive in its rendering of cold human beings that it makes Merchant-Ivory films look like orgy-laden pornos by comparison.

Van Diem tells the pathetic and depressing story of young Katadreuffe (Fedja Van Huet), who is the product of a loveless union between the city's cruel bailiff, Dreverhaven (Jan Decleir), and his maid, Joba (Betty Schuurman). Poor Katadreuffe is tormented as a boy by classmates who tease him about the number of syllables in his name and send him little notes that say "bastard" on them.

Katadreuffe grows up to be a pretty determined young man because his mother never talks to him, which forces him to sit in his room and read his encyclopedia, which only goes up to the letter "T." However, he's tortured by the knowledge that the cruel Dreverhaven is his father and that his mother won't explain a damn thing to him. He sets the goal of becoming a lawyer to prove to everybody that their silence and cruelty won't keep him down.

I don't know where this little depressing town in the Netherlands is exactly, but let me tell you, thriving on tourism it's not. Van Diem supposes that by having young Katadreuffe overcome all his obstacles he'll produce an astounding bit of storytelling. The thing is, what else is the kid going to do? If he doesn't overcome something he's either going to be dead or some kind of disturbed mute.

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