Pain and comfort
Romy’s grandmother Stine (Beppie Melissen, striking as ever) is a hairdresser with her own salon. When her daughter Margot (Noortje Herlaar), after her divorce, asks her to babysit Romy (Vita Heijmen), she is certainly not thrilled. Nor is Romy, but gradually they become closer. Granny is showing the first signs of Alzheimer’s and Romy helps her out when she gets muddled up when returning cash or struggling with an I-pad.
Not many words are used to show a world of frustration and sorrow. Subtle hints like a light gesture, a remark or just a look show how relationships are at the moment, not only between Romy’s parents (salient roles by Noortje Herlaar and Guido Pollemans), but also between Romy’s grandmother and mother.
Romy, a strong and friendly 10-year-old, manages to find her own ways of coping. She realizes that she is needed. Where are granny’s earrings, what has happened to her immaculate hairdo and her fashionable outfits? Why cannot she count the money from the till anymore? Stine is gradually getting sloppier, both physically and mentally. Her harsh attitude has gone and she is happily planning on Romy’s future in the hair salon. Her snappy remarks have made place for mildness, something her own daughter must have missed. While leaning on the sink, Margot’s one glance at her mother seems to say it all.
Stine’s face lights up, when showing her late husband’s picture to Romy. Years ago, he had taken her from Denmark to Holland. Remembering her home country, some Danish words and sentences slip through. However, there is no trace of a Danish accent in Stine’s Dutch. Although Danish and Dutch are both Germanic languages (Danish is a North Germanic and Dutch a West Germanic language in the Indo-European language family), this does not seem plausible. Of the small grammatical mistake Stine makes (‘die ding’ instead of ‘dat ding’) it is not clear whether this was intentional or not.
Romy wants to make granny happy and decides to fulfill her dream. This gets everybody into trouble and we see the characters with their assets and sensitivities in full bloom, but again without any sentimentality or exaggeration. It is easy to identify with all of them. Their pain and worries, their awkwardness and clumsiness illicit our smiles, chuckles and lumps in the throat.
In the end, the whole event of carrying out Stine’s wish brings everybody closer. They look lighter and softer. The Danish scenery, so wide, so amazing and green, seems to reinforce a sense of relief. In spite of the Alzheimer’s Disease, gradually transforming Stine, this is an uplifting and soothing film for young and old.
genre: family, comedy, drama
length: 92 min.
country: the Netherlands
adaptation of the book Kapsalon Romy by Tamara Bos
scriptwriter: Tamara Bos
director: Mischa Kamp
cast: Vita Heijmen, Beppie Melissen, Noortje Herlaar, Bianca Krijgsman, Guido Pollemans, Aus Greidanus sr.
producer: Bos Bros
best International Literary Adaptation for Children or Young Adults Frankfurter Buchmesse Film Awards, 2018
BFF Children’s Film Award Kristians and International Children’s Film Festival 2019
best Film by the Professional Jury & Best Film by the Children’s Jury Tel Aviv International Children’s Film Festival 2019
special Award – Gragnano Consortium Award (Elements 10+) Giffoni Film Festival 2019
Busan International Kids and Youth Film Festival Busan, South-Korea (July 9 – 15, 2019)
Tel Aviv International Children’s Film Festival Tel Aviv, Israel (July 16 – 20, 2019)
Giffoni Film Festival Giffoni, Italy (July 19-27, 2019)
Tromsø International Film Festival Tromsø, Norway (September 4-9, 2019)
Warsaw Kids Film Festival Warsaw, Poland (September 21-29, 2019)
Buster Film Festival Copenhagen, Denmark (September 23 – October 6, 2019)
Netherlands Film Festival Utrecht, The Netherlands (September 26 – October 4, 2019)
Schlingel International Film Festival Chemnitz, Germany (October 7 – 13, 2019)
Vienna International Children’s and Youth Film Festival Vienna, Austria (16-24 November, 2019)