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CHARACTER (1997, SERIES) – 8/10

The second Oscar was brought to the Netherlands by this dynamic mystery crime drama, which is (mostly) set in Rotterdam in the 1920s. It was filmed by Mike van Diem “Character” based on the novel of the same name by Ferdinand Bordewijk from 1938, and apparently it is one of those novels on the trail of Charles Dickens’ work. The main character, namely the young Katadreuffe (Fedja van Huet), even reminded me of the character of Ivica Kičmanović from the famous novel “U registraturi” by Ante Kovačić, a young man of humble origin who decided to succeed at any cost. But just as the stars were not really in favor of the unfortunate Ivica, so the figure of his biological father, the evil and insidious bailiff of Dreverhaven (Jan Decleir), will loom over the fate of Katadreuffe.

Partly because of his job and partly because of his creepy personality, Dreverhaven is anything but a popular guy, a cruel sociopath who seems to enjoy his job and destroying people’s lives. One day he will rape his housekeeper, and she will then become pregnant. Although he will offer her marriage and that she will take care of the child, the assistant will refuse it and run away from him, and soon a boy will be born whose paths will also intertwine with those of Dreverhaven throughout his life. The film actually begins with a confrontation between father and son, after which Katadreuffe remains a suspect in Dreverhaven’s death and he tells the investigators his life story.

After a short episode about Katadreuffe’s upbringing, we follow how he grew into a stubborn and determined young man who decided to succeed at any cost. And that without anyone’s help, but his biological father will be the one who will constantly make his life miserable and make the situation difficult. Although most of the film was shot in Wroclaw, Poland, Van Diem managed to brilliantly portray the time and environment of the early 20th century in that port city. It is an interesting film about a somewhat incomprehensible, incomprehensible mutual hatred, contempt and spite that will develop equally in both of them. Because while Katadreuffe has firmly decided that he will succeed and become a lawyer without the help of a powerful father, this one seems to be even stricter, crueler and more ruthless towards his son than he is towards other people. That absurdity in the relationship between the two is actually the most interesting part of this interesting mystery drama, a dark character study that certainly deserves attention.