Review: ‘Atlantis’

A totalitarian new world is evoked in Digna Sinke's airless dystopian reverie, "Atlantis."

A totalitarian new world is evoked in Digna Sinke’s airless dystopian reverie, “Atlantis.” Unable to contribute anything new to a genre as old as the lost continent itself, Sinke borrows from Huxley and Orwell while reducing everything to a more intimate scale, following a young woman who gradually rebels against the state’s mind control. Unfortunately there’s a block of ice instead of an emotional core, and the helmer neither conveys the future impossible nor the past imperfect. Fantasy fests may take a peek, but bring a sweater.

Sometime in the future, the past is banned and “optimism is a moral duty.” Xenia (newcomer Pitou Nicolaes), 14, has unsettling dreams which she shares with her brother Arnout (Yorinn Kootstra), a youth who has delved into forbidden recent history. When an old man near a prohibited zone asks Xenia to deliver a letter to Agnes (Annemarie Prins) on the Island, the teen risks the illegal journey, meeting the woman who represents individuality and a repository of memories. Sinke, whose last fiction feature was 1993’s “Belle van Zuylen,” gets the featureless functionality right, but her tediously elliptical script is as flat as the landscape.




A Waterland Film (Netherlands)/Man's Film (Belgium)/Boeddhistische Omroep Stichting (Netherlands) production. (International sales: Waterland Film, Amsterdam.) Produced by Wilant Boekelman, Jan van der Zanden. Directed, written by Digna Sinke.


Camera (color, widescreen), Richard van Oosterhout; editor, Michiel Reichwein; music, Paul M. van Brugge; production designer, Vincent de Pater; costume designer, Margriet Procee. Reviewed at San Sebastian Film Festival (Zabaltegi), Sept. 19, 2008. Dutch dialogue. Running time: 80 MIN.


Pitou Nicolaes, Annemarie Prins, Yorinn Kootstra, Ria Marks.
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