Saturday, November 30, 2013

Teorema meets deadpan in Michiel ten Horn's oddball THE DEFLOWERING OF EVA VAN END

Remember Teorema? That was the 1968 film from Pier Paolo Pasolini (3P, as he is affectionately known to some of us) about a hot young visitor (Terence Stamp) to the home of a wealthy Italian family who sexually seduces every member of that family (mom, dad, sis, bro, even the maid!) in the process turning their lives upside down. We've got a new movie on the scene that does something similar -- THE DEFLOWERING OF EVA VAN END from young Dutch filmmaker Michiel ten Horn -- although the seductions here are not sexual (except in a single instance, the least believable in the movie, that rather oddly substitutes sleep-fucking for sleep-walking), while the film is handled in a style of near-complete deadpan.

Despite the déjà vu that the film may engender in some of us senior movie buffs, Deflowering proves a good deal of fun, thanks to Mr. ten Horn's (the filmmaker is shown at right) use of deadpan style and the fact that the "guest" in the house remains every bit as mysterious as that in Pasolini's movie. Here our invited intruder is a German exchange student named Veit (Rafael Garelsen, below), who arrives to the Netherlands home of the van End family as a kind of surprise. This is because the teenage daughter of the house, Eva, is never paid one bit of attention by anyone else in the family. Thus her announcement of the student's imminent arrival goes by unheard.

The movie is a kind of wake-up call, provided by ten Horn and his screenwriter Anne Barnhoorn, via their near angelic guest, Veit -- beautiful of visage, highly intelligent, innately kind with impeccable manners -- who intuits exactly what each member of this family needs and then helps them find it. If this sounds a tad heavily pre-planned, it is.

Yet because each family member (that's the group, above) is chock full of very definitive characteristics (most of them pretty bizarre) and the deadpan humor used to display this, along with the odd interaction (or lack of) the family shares with each other, you'll quickly see where things are going, but you'll still have some fun getting there.

Performances are as good as can be expected under this fairly tight film-making hand, with mom perhaps the most interesting and human of the bunch and the titular Eva (Vivan Dierickx, above, in her film debut) the least. Well, she's going through that tough teen-age time with no help from anyone except Veit, so what can we expect?

From cuddly bunnies to bruising beatings, competitive eating to inner peace, it's all here and all pretty low-key funny. Ten Horn's oddball family odyssey should prove one of the more bizarre films of your movie-going year and yet another in the library of endlessly interesting movies from Film Movement, Deflowering arrives on DVD this coming Tuesday, December 3 -- just in time for gift-giving... to the especially quirky among your friends and relations.

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