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NO. 10 (2021, SERIES) – 7/10

 

Alex vam Warmerdam, a filmmaker I would describe as the Dutch David Lynch, is back with another completely twisted thriller on the edge of absurdity. Even earlier, Van Warmerdam’s constant was that you should expect something completely unexpected, strange, something that completely jumps out of the standard film canons like his previous “Waiter” and “Borgman”. And “Number Ten” is a film that stands out for its originality, and although he has already turned seventy, this imaginative Dutchman does not lack ideas and inventiveness, and although “No. 10” may not be at the level of some of his previous films, it was nevertheless his typical work.

And it begins like a minimalist, chamber drama in which we follow the dynamics between a theater troupe preparing a new play. Günter (Tom Dewispelaere) plays the main role, and he is secretly in a relationship with actress Isabel (Anniek Pheifer), the wife of director Karl (Hans Kesting). Marius (Pierre Bokma), on the other hand, cannot focus on the theater because his wife is seriously ill, and the relationships between all these characters are somehow strange, bizarre, cold. Every day seems almost identical as they all drive to work and home together according to the established schedule, and Günter’s routine will only be somewhat disrupted by the unexpected arrival of his daughter Lizzy (Frieda Barnhard), who has just arrived from an examination and claims that she has only one lung.

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She asks her father how it is possible that they never discovered this before, he claims that she was never sick so they never took her to the doctor, and he himself has never been sick so he has not been to a doctor and he does not know where he stands on the issue of the number of lungs . Admittedly, the only thing Günter knows about himself is that he is an orphan who was once found in the forest, and this whole story, already unusual and bizarre, will turn into even stranger waters when a mysterious guy he doesn’t know whispers something to Günter in passing. That moment seems to awaken something in this actor, and some mysterious guys who seem to be connected to some secret organization run by the church will start appearing there. And just like with Lynch, instead of the story becoming clearer over time, everything starts to get even more tangled, and the opening part is almost forgotten and we realize that something very, very dark and strange is hiding there.

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Everything is strange from beginning to end. From the behavior and interaction of the characters who react completely coldly, absurdly to situations that in reality would throw a person completely out of tact. Like Van Warmerdam’s previous films, “Nr. 10” abounds with his typical deadpan black, bizarre humor, and this Dutchman seems to enjoy confusing and provoking the audience. Just as the director of a theater play says at one point that he is trying to make an “abstract collage without logic”, at times it seems that Van Warmerdam is guided by the same guiding principle. Almost everything remains completely unclear and completely open until the end, and it remains for everyone to conclude whether “Number Ten” was actually a bizarre joke on the topic of conspiracy theories or what Van Warmerdam wanted to say this time.

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