Director: Dave Schram
Writers: Maria Peters, Carry Slee
Stars: Robin Boissevain, Dorus Witte, Stefan Collier
Having already written a review on the same subject matter for “A Girl Like Her (2015)” last month it was refreshing to see a different take on a movie with bullying as it’s theme. Where “Spijt!” differs is that the victim is physically abused rather than using technology in the form of social media, texting etc that Avery used on Jessica in “A Girl Like Her” which was way more psychological torment.
Here we have David’s (Robin Boissevain) classmate Jochem (Stefan Collier) who is bullied for being overweight and although David stands up to the bullying eventually, it turns out to be too little too late. I had read that “Spijt!” is the adaptation of a book of the same name by Carry Slee. I haven’t read the book, so I’m unsure of how accurate the movie is.
David tries to help Jochem, but just as his other classmates he is afraid he will receive the same treatment from the bullies.
This is what intrigued me on the direction Dave Scram was going. The basis of the storyline is to show how physical abuse to someone effects them and those around them. In David’s case and in the case of the class, they are too afraid to act on the bullying even when they see it for themselves. Watching this movie you will experience compassion for Jochem and anger towards the bullies who tormented him for the duration of the film.
If I had one or two complaints about the movie they would be the size of Jochem compared to the bullies. Surely someone of his stature would be able to handle himself in these situations but then again does the psychological side of bullying creep into Jochem’s state of mind? Possibly, but it isn’t well explained or executed in any of these scenes. The other gripe I had was towards the class tutor who actually saw the bullies pour Jochem’s food all over him before shoving his face in his dinner only to pass it off as humour and it’s just a joke……..What? What normal person would look at that situation in that way? Even the students can see it’s bullying….I mean, c’mon.
Although the storyline is based on Jochem the actual perspective is from David’s way of life and what he gets up to. Being the keyboard player in his class band on the lookout for a female singer ruffles some feathers with Vera (Dorus Witte) who appears to like David and vice versa. Robin Boissevain who played David did a very good job carrying the main characters role and showed a lot of maturity in his scenes, who at only 20 has already a handful of acting credits as well as writing and directorial credits to his career.
Dorus Witte who plays Vera reminded me of a young Ally Sheedy (circa War Games) and in her role was sympathetic towards Jochem and a friendship developed between the two of them meeting at the local kennels were Vera volunteers to help out. Witte was decent enough in her role but very similar to David in his morals and beliefs.
Although Stefan Collier’s Jochem had nothing much to do other than being a human punchbag / Football for the majority of his scenes I felt the writing of the stranded and tied up dog a clever hook to show the Characters compassion and misinterpreted side to him as a gentle giant that Vera discovers in her meeting Jochem at the kennels shortly after he had rescued the dog and eventually takes home. Collier although didn’t have much acting to do was believable enough as the victim and convincing enough that you feel compassion for him.
Dave Schram should be commended on tackling this subject in a different way than I expected. The onus is on the people who stood back and allowed the tragic events to unfold and in the final scenes having to explain their lack of action. Schram doesn’t hold back on the physical aspects of the bullying either. That’s not to say it’s a graphic movie, it isn’t anymore shocking than most films that tackle this subject. Schram manages to deliver a hard hitting drama in his sixth directorial project.
The result is this is a decent movie. The movie makes its point and delivers a sad but interesting take on bullying and why it happens and why sometimes nobody does anything to stop it for varies reasons. It should appeal to its audience and delivers awareness around bullying. I recommend this film to fans of the book and to people who have not read the book as well, like myself.