The official Dutch entry for this year’s Oscars, “Simon” plays like an old-fashioned AIDS flick in reverse, with the healthy gay guy caring for his dying straight friend. Eddy Terstall’s mild brand of humor and predictable throat-catching weepiness works strictly along boob-tube illness-of-the-week lines, with plentiful shots of topless women. Despite local popularity and home-based awards, the prognosis for a healthy life outside doesn’t look good.
Brash womanizing hash dealer Simon (Cees Geel) nearly runs over shy gay dentistry student Camiel (Marcel Hensema), leading to an unlikely friendship in which Camiel appears to stick around just so he can be the butt of Simon’s fag jokes. The camaraderie sours on a trip to Thailand, when Simon’s g.f. Sharon (Terstall regular Rifka Lodeizen) seduces Camiel.Fourteen years later, the former buddies run into each other and resume their friendship. Dynamics have changed thanks to Simon’s inoperable brain tumor, and Camiel winds up doling out support to Simon and his circle of friends. Slick packaging and easy ensemble-playing can’t mask hoary “gather round, I’m dying” formula.