De Tweeling: A Review

My brother thinks I am pretentious. Thing is, my brother’s interests and likings differ a great deal from mine. He loves his Biryani, while I need my daily dose of home-cooked Bengali food (more on that some other day). He loves new Hindi movie songs that I can simply never stand. But the biggest difference perhaps is our choices in movies. He’s totally into Bollywood capers and superhero Hollywood flicks, whereas I catch at least one foreign film every weekend. And, that’s where the pretentious part comes into play.

 

Watching Iranian, German or Korean movies with English subtitles isn’t my brother’s idea of fun. The only foreign film I know he has liked is the incredibly well-made Swedish movie, Let the right one in. I loved it too and while I watched it I wondered how could my younger sibling with a proven tacky taste in movies could have stumbled upon it and then mustered up the courage to watch it. Anyway, I digress. This post is neither about my brother nor our volatile relationship which has been marred by his terrible need to turn up the volume of our TV every time a Hindi song he likes is played.

 

I am writing to gush about this wonderful movie I watched over the weekend. Not surprisingly, it’s a foreign language film again and one I had a hard time finding on the net.

 

Based on a novel of the same name, De Tweeling (The Twins) is a Dutch/German movie which released in 2002. It’s a moving tale of pain, despair and longing. Two sisters, separated after the death of their father, grow up in starkly different conditions. One goes through a childhood of poverty, abuse and hopelessness while the other is fortunate to find love and care.

 

Set in the 1930s, the movie presents a grim picture of the conditions prevailing in Europe at that time. The sisters find themselves caught in opposite directions, as one falls in love with an SS army soldier while the other is set to marry a Jew, whose life tragically ends in a concentration camp. The war creates a permanent rift between Lotte and Anna who do not resolve their differences until the very end.

There’s such brilliance in the way the story unfolds onscreen that I can go on for hours gushing over the director’s treatment of themes like love, disappointment, hope and so on. I love almost everything about this movie, especially that moving scene in which the two little sisters are separated from each other or the one in which they meet after losing the loves of their lives to the war.

 

A special mention of the lead actresses who infuse life with their spellbinding performances. Thekla Reuten and Nadja Uhl convey emotions not only through their words and gestures, but also their silences.

 

It’s a shame that De Tweeling did not win the Oscar, despite making it to the nominations. But then I am yet to catch The Barbarian Invasions that eventually won that year. Nevertheless, De Tweeling is one of my most favorite movies and one that shatters me scene after scene. Do not miss it!

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