The Deflowering of Eva Van End DVD Review
The Deflowering of Eva Van End
is a bit of an oddball dark comedy and drama from relative newcomer
Michiel Ten Horn, a first-time feature-length director from the
Netherlands who previously made some acclaimed short films (two of
which are included on this DVD release). Released by Film Movement in
the United States, this is a independent film reassembling our
perceptions of the typical films considered to exist within the
'growing up' genre that is common with productions in the US by sharing
a story from a different cultural perspective (and that still
fundamentally shares a lot in common with Americana tales of teenage
maturation). In this case, the story centers upon an entire
family of characters instead of on one lone protagonist (despite what
the time might lead some to think).
In The Deflowering of Eva Van End,
Horn explores a family in transition who are faced with some
uncomfortable changes as they are helping to host a foreign-exchange
student from Germany (named Veit) who has moved in with their family.
It's a story of family and it explores the family of this bizarre story
through a sequence of odd events that lead to the transformative
conclusion. The story begins with Eva (Vivian Dierickx) at a table with
her family. They are all around her yet not one of them seems to really
recognize or acknowledge her. She is a 15 year old girl who lacks the
ability to speak up for herself and who others take for granted.
The film establishes a journey with this character that guides the
audience through the rest of the oddball characters of The Deflowering of Eva Van End.
Over the course of the story, Eva is able to transform herself and she
recognizes some things (good and bad) that she hadn't before (and all
the while without saying hardly anything at all). The rest of the
family contributes to the dysfunctional nature of them all. The parents
are also often preoccupied with working and are within their own worlds
so they don't tend to pay that much attention to children Eva, Erwin,
and Manuel. It's a family of 'E's (except the one son) as the parents are named
Evert and Etty. No one seems to understand each other as well as they
could. The family is not nearly as close as the "E" names would seem to
Throughout the film the new character to their household, Veit (Rafael
Gareisen) causes some dramatic commotion as a number of the family's
doubts and personal troubles are brought to light within themselves.
One of the sons in the family is engaged but is actually homosexual,
another is dealing with the fact that his one major strength is at
winning an eating contest each year (plus the fact that he is usually
smoking-dope), and the daughter Eva is usually ignored by those at
school and at home - except when she is being bullied or teased - and
must deal with a number of self-doubt and body-image issues that she
seems to struggle with on a daily basis. The parents deal with their
own issues too as Etty confronts stresses in trying to raise her
children while finding time for personal peace while Evert tries to
figure out his calling when he learns about how he could help a poor
African child that Veit speaks to through web-chat: a process that
leads the father to take out the family's entire savings to try and
help establish a business with the young boy so that he can do
something that might help him out of his poverty.
Out of every aspect of the film's production, the thing that stood out
the most to me as being something impressive and noteworthy was the
filmmaking by director Michiel Ten Horn. It certainly felt like a
film from a relative newcomer to the world of directing but it was an
entirely well-realized effort from a visual standpoint, with a solid
grasp of visual storytelling apparent by the director. The screenplay
was written by Anne Barnhoorn based on concepts established from
herself and the director, and while it is well-written in the sense
that everything flows well and connects in the film's final moments, I
thought that the attempts towards humor in the script were mostly
unsuccessful (which isn't helpful for a film that is supposed to be a
comedy, dark or not).
The performances by the cast were quite good, and I thought everyone
did a solid job at creating a feeling of being a part of an actual
family. This is also a complement to the directing. There are moments
where I felt like this could have been a much better film with a
slightly revised script or had some additional work been done with
regards to the origins of the idea.
I thought the characters were not too likeable in characterization
(aside from, perhaps, Etty... who does a good thing by trying to help
out the poor African kid but he also messes with his family by taking
out their entire savings) but they were believably portrayed even with
some of the outlandishness fundamentally inherent in this effort. The
character most perplexing was perhaps Veit. In bringing out these
different elements of the characters it often felt like it was done
with an intentional purpose by Veit. Yet the character is so odd and is
never explained to the audience in a way that makes sense. Something
feels alien about this 'stranger' to the storyline. At times it felt
more like Veit was simply a storytelling concept projecting and
propelling the story forward rather than an actual character within the
The cinematography by Jasper Wolf impressed me. This was a very well
filmed movie in terms of the lighting and the unusually drab color
palette. The overall impression of the film was certainly helped by
authentic and artistic photography. It is never too bright or
overly-cheerful. Instead, it offers up quirkiness with a dark palette
that seems appropriate for the material.
In exploring these characters, I found that The Deflowering of Eva Van End was
an ambitious project for filmmakers who are still clearly newcomers to
making movies. The script has some good ideas and is convincing at
portraying a family even if it's humor isn't so good. The directing was
solid and shows promise for future films by Michiel Ten Horn. The
performances felt genuine. I didn't wholly appreciate the end result
and even at less than two hours the film is something that feels a bit
overlong. Nonetheless, there are some interesting elements to this odd
character study and it is worth checking out.
Michiel Ten Horn's The Deflowering
of Eva Van End is well photographed by cinematographer Jasper
Wolf and the photography is well-preserved with the Film Movement DVD
release as it preserves the original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1
and with anamorphic widescreen enhancement. The colors aren't that
vibrant but the look of the film does match the storytelling approach
The original language track is preserved and the film is presented in
Dutch with English subtitles. Dialogue is well-reproduced on the
release and sometimes music is utilized for the film to be a more
robust experience from a sound-design standpoint. The film is presented
with both stereo and basic 5.1 surround sound options.
This Film Movement release expands the typical offering of one monthly
short film to include two different shorts. Both short films are from
director Michiel Ten Horn. Basta
is his second short film (the first one on this release) and I couldn't
stand it. I wasn't so sure what was even happening for most of the
brief runtime. It felt like the work of a director trying to imitate
the filmmaker Jean-Pierre Jeunet (Amelie)
while telling a" whimsical" story without any dialogue and the effort
failed miserably at understanding why Jeunet's films are successful. It
was not a successful effort as far as I am concerned.
The second short film included on this release is Arie, which Horn directed two years
after the previous short. I found it to be an emotional and captivating
short film about old age, friendship, and compassion.
The story centers upon Mr. Manders (Aart Staartjes), who lives in a
retirement home with his friend Arie: a bird. The loss of the bird's
life leads Mr. Manders into a surprising evening with events that lead
to a new friendship. Unlike the first short film on this set, this is
actually a coherent, emotional, and effective piece of filmmaking. It
also feels genuine and it works as something original. It also doesn't
feel like an attempt to copy from another director. Surprisingly, Arie demonstrated that Horn had
improved his skills as a filmmaker dramatically.
The release also contains filmmaker bios, trailers for other Film
Movement releases, comments from the director, and a note about why The Deflowering of Eva Van End was
selected by Film Movement.
Michiel Ten Horn does a solid job as the director of The Deflowering of Eva Van End. The
film manages to feel unique and noteworthy without managing to be as
entertaining, enjoyable, or as successful as one would hope to find.
It's biggest issue as a film is that it isn't really successful with
being funny for something that is supposed to be a dark comedy. It
works more purely as something that is a character study. The film is
at least worth renting, though.
The DVD release by Film Movement is worth consideration for the
surprisingly effective short film Arie
(from director Michiel Ten Horn), which I considered the highlight of
the release. It was a short film that delighted and enchanted me and I
imagine others will find it to be a well done exercise in
Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema, and a student who aspires to make movies. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.