Marleen Gorris’ idealized perspective on an independent-minded woman who comes to live in a small Dutch farming community, Antonia’s Line, is a feel-good fairy tale that will appeal to many women.
Antonia (Willeke van Ammelrooy) is a very old lady when pic opens, and she knows it is the last day of her life by a kind of magic realism that pops up sporadically throughout the film. A long flashback begins at the end of the war, when she and her teenage daughter, Danielle (Els Dottermans), return to the farm town where Antonia – now a stocky, attractive matron of 40 – was born.
Willy Stassen’s sensuous camerawork depicts the idyllic Dutch farm country as a lush natural paradise. In the same spirit, Gorris narrates the lives of five generations of women who work, have kids and bond with each other and some of the more decent males in the vicinity, as season follows season in a natural rhythm of birth and death.
In Antonia’s magical kingdom, no woman ever makes a false step – which puts much of the story squarely in the wishful-thinking category. In the title role, Van Ammelrooy provides a strong center to the rambling story, both feminine and authoritative.
1995: Best Foreign Language Film