I have not viewed all the films by Dutch writer/director Alex van Warmerdam (Borgman) and his 10th feature film, NR. 10, presented by Drafthouse Films is certainly one that you cannot call predictable. Reading the synopsis, I was anticipating another story than what I viewed. The very well written script takes the viewer on one path and then leads them in a different direction – at least one I was not expecting and that is brilliant and entertaining.
The first part of the film is about actors rehearsing for a play and the director is not pleased with the performance of one individual. The elder actor has a wife with medical challenges and the director Karl (Hans Kesting) has no sympathy. He expects the “problem” to be addressed and the actor’s wife dies at home, no questions asked/apparently no autopsy either. To add to the drama of this group, Karl’s wife Isabel (Anniek Pheifer), is having an affair with handsome fellow actor Günter (Tom Dewispelaere). To add to the shenanigans, there are various pairs of eyes keeping tabs on what Günter’s activities are. Some look like MIB (men in black) agents, his daughter Lizzy (Frieda Barnhard) uses a video camera to spy, and others tie back to a religious group, and ultimately, it was feeling like a soap opera of sorts.
The love affair between Günter and Isabel is going hot and heavy but comes to a halt when someone in the acting crew snitchs on them to the director to raise suspicion. Busted and broken, Gunter is in a downward spiral and details of his actions will not be shared here. I won’t dare spoil it.
Then come the MIB types linked to the religious folks who throw him a rope to come up out of the depths. I questioned why this group is reeling him in, to the point of wondering if he is a priest gone rogue trying out all manner of mortal sin and is hiding out. What are their plans for him?
Günter was raised by a foster family after being found abandoned. At this point in his life he has not researched his origins, so when walking about, a man (Stijn Van Opstal) approaches him and whispers a word in his ear, one he doesn’t understand. Distanced from Isabel and acting, he now has the time to pursue the breadcrumbs that are thrown at him that lead back to his childhood. The change in the story is done so smoothly it seems to take seconds to forget about his previous dilemma with others in his life.
One very entertaining, engaging and well performed scene from this path to learning about his childhood history is between Günter and a leader of the “helpful” group. They have a very intense discussion about their opposing views on one topic. It is not allowed to become heated. Things seem to proceed where the audience believes this road will take them, but to learn more about Günter and his daughter Lizzy, you just must watch the film. Things are not always as expected or perceived.
Drafthouse Films will release NR. 10 in Austin Alamo Drafthouse theaters on December 2nd (as well as in New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Denver, and Raleigh). It will be followed by a Digital release on December 9th. Run Time: 1hr 40m Language: Dutch, German, English Country: Netherlands, Belgium
Source: Drafthouse Films