Review: ‘Mussels in Love’

Bivalve-lovers will have something to chew on with Willemiek Kluijfhout's handsomely shot documentary "Mussels in Love," though her unabashedly partisan approach leaves niggling questions in its wake.

Bivalve lovers will have something to chew on with Willemiek Kluijfhout’s handsomely shot documentary “Mussels in Love,” though her unabashedly partisan approach leaves niggling questions in its wake. Mussel worshippers won’t be the only ones interested in the lovingly described sex life of these creatures, and a brief investigation of the possible medical uses for mussel glue is fascinating. However, giving European Union experts an opportunity to explain restrictions on harvesting the critters would have created a more balanced approach. Ancillary will provide tasty returns.

Should trawling for mussel bottoms be allowed? The EU says no, Dutch fishermen say yes, but only the latter p.o.v. is heard. Earlier, Kluijfhout devotes time to the shellfish’s reproductive cycle, featuring long, near-fetishistic shots of mussel semen wafting through water (mussels mustn’t be overstimulated or they lose their libidos). Though the docu makes occasional jaunts into Belgium, the world’s biggest consuming nation (30,000 tons per annum), the Dutch helmer maintains an undisguised bias toward her nation’s mussel breeders. A Mussel Princess contest is cute, yet more on mussel glue, and its potential for sealing premature ruptures in human amniotic sacs, would be welcome.

Mussels in Love



A Trueworks presentation of a Trueworks, Associate Directors production. (International sales: Autlook Films, Vienna.) Produced by Reinette van de Stadt. Co-producers, Bram Crols, Mark Daems. Directed by Willemiek Kluijfhout.


Camera (color, widescreen), Remko Schnorr; editors, Dieter Diependaele, Govert Janse; music, Tuur Florizoone; sound, Tim Van Peppe, Anneloes Pabbruwee, Bram Boers; sound designer, Marc Lizier. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (Culinary Cinema), Feb. 10, 2013 (Also in IDFA.) Running time: 73 MIN.


Sergio Herman, Annelies Pronker, Henk Jumelet. (Dutch dialogue)

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