×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Film Review: ‘Prince’

Sam de Jong makes a disarming if soft-centered debut with this look at a 17-year-old growing up in an Amsterdam housing project.

With:
Ayoub Elasri, Jorik Scholten, Achraf Meziani, Oussama Addi, Elsie De Brauw, Sigrid Ten Napel, Olivia Lonsdale, Chaib Massaoudi, Dean Liedermooy, Peter Douma, Colin George, Vincent Van de Waal, Freddy Tratlehner.

Official Site: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4161932/

An uneven but engaging new talent arrives on the scene with “Prince,” Sam de Jong’s brightly stylized writing-directing debut about a Moroccan-Dutch teenager trying to find his way in a world that doesn’t yet extend far beyond his Amsterdam housing project. Life is bleak but also sweet in this red-bricked enclave, where brash young men sling insults, exaggerate their sexual prowess, and are exposed early on to the ever-present temptations of crime and violence, but where the fundamental goodness of human nature prevails in the fairy-tale fashion suggested by the movie’s title. A slender, morally simplified fable that makes up for its tonal and narrative imprecisions with considerable visual energy, musical pizzazz, and a panoply of colorful characters, “Prince,” now in limited theatrical release Stateside, should do its part as a calling card for de Jong and his appealing cast.

A 28-year-old Dutch-born filmmaker with several shorts to his credit, de Jong serves up social realism with a deliberate but not-too-cloying layer of artifice, slowing down or speeding up the action as needed, and often positioning characters at the center of the frame in closeup. Early on, then, we get a good look at 17-year-old Ayoub (likable newcomer Ayoub Elasri), who spends most of his time hanging out with his friends, making mild mischief and fantasizing about Laura (Sigrid Ten Napel), a beautiful blonde teen who lives on the estate. But Laura is running around with Ronnie (Peter Douma), the leader of an older pack of layabouts who bully the teens mercilessly, reserving special scorn for Ayoub due to his minority status. Adding to the soapy romantic complications, Ayoub’s best bud happens to be Ronnie’s younger brother, Franky (Jorik Scholten), who turns out to have a serious crush on Ayoub’s half-sister, Demi (Olivia Lonsdale).

The messy but generally warm and supportive dynamics of Ayoub’s home life are among the film’s chief pleasures, from his relationship with his mother (a wonderful Elsie de Brauw), whom he tries to help find meet men online, to his understandable feelings of over-protectiveness toward Demi. Outside the apartment, Ayoub shows patience and generosity toward his homeless, drug-addicted father (Chaib Massaoudi), even though the man’s Moroccan heritage and wastrel ways are a regular source of shame. For all the characters’ tough talk and testosterone-fueled swagger, there’s a disarming sweetness, even softness, at the core of “Prince” that makes it a bit hard to swallow its third-act swerve into violence. It’s easy enough to believe that Ayoub might take drastic measures to fight back, get the girl and prove his worth, but he’s too good-hearted to fully earn the movie’s redemptive arc, especially given the brief 76-minute running time.

The only unrepentantly wicked character onscreen (and by far the least convincing) is Kalpa, a gun-waving, pig-slaughtering, purple-Lamborghini-driving local crook who serves as the story’s flashy Fagin figure; he’s played by Dutch rapper Freddy Tratlehner in a flashy, over-the-top turn. Where “Prince” is most persuasive, despite its uneven technique and wobbly execution, is in the way it captures a broken-down, socially marginalized environment and the defiant, aspirational ethos of those who dwell in it — a place where a pair of expensive Zanotti sneakers represent the ultimate status symbol, and where a scrawny, socially maladroit kid can get a shot at winning the princess’s heart if he does enough sit-ups. It may be a fantasy, slathered in eye-popping colors and spirit-boosting synth tracks (most of them courtesy of credited music supervisor Palmbomen, aka Kai Hugo), but de Jong’s heartfelt, emotionally generous approach nonetheless scratches the surface of something vivid and real.

Film Review: ‘Prince’

Reviewed online, Pasadena, Calif., Aug. 16, 2015. (In Berlin Film Festival — Generation 14plus, opener.) Running time: 76 MIN. (Original title: “Prins”)

Production: (Netherlands) A FilmBuff/Vice Media (in U.S.) release of a Halal Pictures presentation, in co-production with Vice, with the support of the Netherlands Film Fund and the City of Amsterdam. Produced by Gijs Kerbosch, Roel Oude Nijhuis, Gijs Determeijer. Co-producers, Sjoerd Raaijmakers, Thijs Boon.

Crew: Directed, written by Sam de Jong. Camera (color), Paul Ozgur; editor, Mieneke Kramer; music supervisor, Palmbomen; production designer, Sanne Schat; set decorators, Andrea Van der Kolk, Judith van Oostrum; costume designer, Nedda Nagel; sound, Noah Pepper; sound designer/re-recording mixer, Vincent Sinceretti; special effects, Arthur van Oest; visual effects, Robin Hancock; stunt coordinator, Simon van Lammeren; line producer, Christine Anderton; assistant director, Damien Hope; second unit camera, Thijmen Doornik; casting, de Jong.

With: Ayoub Elasri, Jorik Scholten, Achraf Meziani, Oussama Addi, Elsie De Brauw, Sigrid Ten Napel, Olivia Lonsdale, Chaib Massaoudi, Dean Liedermooy, Peter Douma, Colin George, Vincent Van de Waal, Freddy Tratlehner.

More Film

  • Cannes: Florence Pugh, Francois Civil Honored

    Florence Pugh, Francois Civil Honored With Chopard Award for Rising Talent

    Rising British actress Florence Pugh (“Lady Macbeth”) and French actor Francois Civil (“Wolf’s Call”) received the Chopard Trophy Award at a star-studded ceremony hosted by Chopard on Monday during the Cannes Film Festival. Pugh and Civil were chosen among many actors by a jury consisting of former Chopard Trophy recipients such as Marion Cotillard, Gael [...]

  • Belle Epoque

    Pathé Sells ‘La Belle Epoque’ to Half the World

    French sales, distribution and production company Pathé has closed a raft of sales deals on three titles at the Cannes Film Market: “La Belle Epoque,” “Misbehaviour” and project “Eifel.” The company will handle distribution in France and Switzerland on all three. Nicolas Bedos’ “La Belle Epoque,” which screened out of competition at the festival, is [...]

  • Editorial use only. /NO SALESMandatory Credit:

    Cirque du Soleil Partners With 'Aladdin' Producer Rideback on Projects

    Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group is partnering with Rideback, producer of “Aladdin,” “It” and the Lego franchise, to develop movies inspired by the Cirque du Soleil catalogue. The partnership, announced Tuesday, aims to leverage Rideback’s track record and increase the opportunities for a global audience to enjoy the Cirque du Soleil universe. “Cirque du Soleil [...]

  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

    The Biggest Highs and Lows From Cannes 2019 (So Far)

    The 72nd edition of the Cannes Film Festival hasn’t included too many movie stars — yet. But festivalgoers were able to come face-to-face with zombies, Elton John singing on the beach and Robert Pattinson going full Method actor. Here are the six biggest highs and lows from the French Riviera so far. 1. Elton John [...]

  • Kenichiro Yoshida Sony Corp

    Sony CEO Stresses Value of Sony Pictures Entertainment at Strategy Briefing

    TOKYO — Sony Corp. CEO Kenichiro Yoshida underscored the importance of Sony Pictures Entertainment to the conglomerate’s strategy going forward at a media briefing Tuesday, citing the global boom in subscription streaming services. The comments from Yoshida, who hosted the session with SPE chairman and CEO Tony Vinciquerra, come amid industry consolidation and possible pressure [...]

  • 'Downton Abbey' Movie Trailer: The Crawleys

    'Downton Abbey' Movie Trailer: 'The King and Queen Are Coming to Downton!'

    The first full trailer for “Downton Abbey,” the much-anticipated movie spin-off of the hit TV series, has been released, showing the Crawley family girding themselves for a royal visit. The trailer for the Focus Features title was released on the film’s official Twitter account after debuting on NBC morning show “Today.” While little of the [...]

  • 'Black Mother' Review: Hypnotic, Intense, Lyrical

    Film Review: 'Black Mother'

    The first set of images in “Black Mother,” Khalik Allah’s intensely felt act of cinematic hypnosis, is a cavalcade of monochrome, vignetted portraits: A young woman in a tight minidress dances in a market; a shirtless man wriggles on one foot, extending the other leg gymnastically high in the air; an old woman with milky [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content