Director: Frank Ketelaar | Screenplay: Frank Ketelaar | Cast: Barry Atsma (Hugo), Georgina Verbaan (Kitty), Jacob Derwig (Marius), Ellen Parren (Sophie), Claudia Vismara (Isabella Garboni), ea | Time to play: 110 minutes | Year: 2022
If you still make a movie out of a full series, you always run the risk of missing out on a part of your target audience: people who have never followed your characters on the small screen. On the other hand, you also don’t want to disappoint the fans. The best way is to have a few nods to the past here and there, but otherwise stick to a standalone story. Emphasis absolutely accomplished.
Marius and Kitty have made a fresh start in Tuscany. They run a flower shop together, but begrudgingly: it’s not where their hearts are anyway, but they also have to deal with a crooked vendor. So as soon as they get the chance to take over a vineyard for an unprecedented low amount, they take it with both hands. The former owner’s daughter is not happy about it. Just when her friends Hugo and Sophie come to visit from the Netherlands, a revenge action begins that involves them all and they must get out of it.
Good friends? It is equally clear to someone unfamiliar with the series that the reunion of the two couples occurred to reunite their teenage daughters. Because Hugo doesn’t like Marius very much, and Sophie doesn’t think highly of either of them. The fact that the film manages to convey this directly to a new viewer is a good sign.
It’s not one hundred percent perfect. At the beginning, we see Hugo with a blonde girl in a jewelry store. Only at the end of the film does it become clear that she is his eldest daughter from a previous marriage. Marius and Kitty’s daughter comes on the scene very late with them, which makes one think for a long time that they are childless. And you wonder what the seemingly intelligent Kitty is doing with the jerk tattooed on Marius’s neck; she already speaks enough Italian, while he can barely express himself fluently in English.
They are problems for viewers who do not know the series. The followers need no explanation. And no one will have problems with the plot of the film. An embittered Italian heiress resorts to shady practices to get her late father’s vineyard out of the hands of those dirty Dutchmen. The fact that they only have visits from her doesn’t stop her.
In these types of movies, the main characters make decisions that you know are not the right ones. It’s a simple subterfuge to keep the plot going. Congratulations to you Emphasis taking the sensible path first. Marius lets himself be turned on, but Hugo makes it clear with harsh words that they should sell things instead of getting into trouble. And they do! Unfortunately: “Just when I thought I was out, they put me back in.” And that’s a little loose.
Emphasis it also suffers from the usual illogic of Dutch films which can undermine credibility. Why do Hugo and Sophie stay in the vineyard terrified if they have a car and there is a town nearby where they can book a hotel? Why do the local police react so lukewarm to what happened to the Dutch couple in the vineyard? Why does an adult character go for a walk after hearing that one of his group is in serious trouble?
And so there are more of those little dots. You also hear too often the words “I don’t speak Italian. Can we speak English?” belong. That may be realistic, but in fiction you can skip it in the long run. Does this spoil the fun? Certainly not. It’s an interesting story about people being devastated abroad.
The tension rises pleasantly into a third act in which everything simmers for half an hour. There is a clear conflict and it is clear what is at stake. However, writer-director Frank Ketelaar suddenly decides to open the comedy box at this point. Suddenly it doesn’t turn into thigh talk, but suddenly there are some jokes that weren’t shown before.
The same goes for the climax. It fits into the film – and has even been introduced before – but it breaks a bit with the previous serious and realistic tone, relying on humor that is added at the last moment. This choice of Ketelaar makes for an unbalanced whole, but thankfully not extremely unbalanced. Perhaps the jokes are intended for connoisseurs of the series.