There’s more than a nodding resemblance between the Dutch “Oude Tongen” and the work of David Lynch, particularly his “Twin Peaks”‘ cycle. Unfortunately, that comparison works against this quirky venture by theater-based writer/director Gerardjan Rijnders. Imitation rather than inspiration prevails in this tale of a small town come unglued when a child porn ring is uncovered in God-fearing country.
Culled from a three-part television venture, the theatrical version appears to have intensified the oblique nature of an already obscurely related drama. Theatrical prospects are severely limited by the pic’s specialized nature, and the producers would be better advised to go back to the original and exploit it for the small screen, where it should rack up sales in upscale territories.
Oude Tongen is a quiet agricultural village dominated by church and family where the brothels and beer halls exist just outside the city limits. But something is amiss. For some mysterious reason a chicken coop has been raided and its layers have had their necks broken.
The planets here are definitely out of alignment, and there’s no disputing that Rijnders has a keen sense of how to visually convey the off-kilter environment. He’s considerably less skilled in tying in key plot points.
The haphazard manner in which the case snowballs from a prank into a sociopolitical scandal is rich, ironic material. But the humor gets lost in the mix. One needs a road map to sort out the host of characters, situations and allusions crammed into the abbreviated version of the series. It emerges as weighty and unfathomable rather than the deft, organic sleight-of-hand intended.