Teasing a Graham Greene-like story of doomed intrigue among First Worlders in a Southeast Asian hot spot, Martin Koolhoven's third feature (following "Suzy Q" and "Amnesia") instead delivers a murky, unsatisfying character study of staid lives destroyed by a corrupt manipulator.

Teasing a Graham Greene-like story of doomed intrigue among First Worlders in a Southeast Asian hot spot, Martin Koolhoven’s third feature (following “Suzy Q” and “Amnesia”) instead delivers a murky, unsatisfying character study of staid lives destroyed by a corrupt manipulator. Psychological depth presumably present in Tim Krabbe’s source novel doesn’t come across in his screenplay or in helmer’s glum presentation; this ambitious but disappointing drama looks destined for Eurotube slots.

Seemingly chance encounters throughout his adulthood reunite aspiring geological researcher Egon (Fedja van Huet) with Axel (Marcel Hensema), the chick-magnet turned multinational crime boss he’d first befriended at a teenage summer camp. Flashbacks limn that long ago holiday’s mixed rewards; when Egon’s marriage and career hopes collapse three decades later, he improbably accepts a smuggling assignment from the still untrustworthy old pal. This dangerous adventure — delayed until last reel, then dully played out — brings things tragically full circle for both Egon and a Canadian woman (Kim Huffman) who also figured in his adolescent past. Time passage is weakly delineated, various character agendas rotely drawn and atmospherics are tepid, leaving complex narrative structure void of involvement or payoff. Tech package is OK.

The Cave

Netherlands

Production

A Get Reel Prods. presentation in association with VARA Television. Produced by Volkert Struycken, Errol Nayci. Directed by Martin Koolhoven. Screenplay, Tim Krabbe, based on his novel.

Crew

Camera (color), Philip van Volsem; editor, Job ter Burg; music, Fon Merkies; production designer, Hubert Pouille. Reviewed at Montreal Film Festival (World Cinema), Aug. 26, 2001. Running time: 91 MIN.

With

Benja Bruijning, Floris Drost, Gwen Eckhaus, Brendan Fletcher, Porgy Franssen, Marcel Hensema, Kim Huffman, Fedja van Huet, Chris Kuppens, Frank Lammers, Hrothgar Matthews, Sandra Meinhart.
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