Genre: Drama/Romance Director: Reinout Oerlemans Cast: Barry Atsma, Carice van Houten, Anna Drijver, Pierre Bokma, Beppie Melissen, Eline Van der Velden RunTime: 1 hr 49 mins Released By: Shaw Rating: R21 (Sexual Scene And Nudity) Official Website: http://www.komteenvrouwbijdedokterdefilm.nl/
Opening Day: 5 July 2012
Synopsis: Stijn loves life and life loves him. He’s got his own business, a wonderful daughter and Carmen, his beautiful wife. There’s no need for her to know that he occasionally enjoys the pleasures of other women. His heart belongs to Carmen, and that’s all that matters.
Their idyllic world is shattered when Carmen goes to the doctor and hears the diagnosis every woman dreads. Life falls apart and they embark on a roller-coaster ride for survival. Though supportive at first, Stijn soon escapes from the new harsh reality into the arms of the sexy, care-free Rose. As Carmen is bravely going through treatment, Stijn will learn what it really means to love.
Based on the best-selling novel which was translated into 26 languages, STRICKEN (A Woman Goes to the Doctor) enjoyed huge domestic market success with a gross of over $13 million at the box office. Produced by Oscar® winning producer Hans de Weer (Antonia’s Line) the movie stars internationally acclaimed Carice van Houten (Paul Verhoeven’s Black Book, Tom Cuise/Bryan Singer’s Valkyrie and Repo Man).
Dutch authour Ray Kluun’s novel A Woman Goes to the Doctor may not represent the most mirthful of materials to work with but Reinout Oerlemans, making his directorial debut with Stricken, has turned it into a worthy celebration of a woman’s indomitable spirit in the battle against breast cancer. At turns playful and serious but never melancholic, Stricken wisely avoids the familiar, if often overplayed emotional sensibilities of the genre. What it does offer is a passionately honest look at the maxim ‘until death do us apart’ when it’s threatened by the onslaught of cancer.
Barry Atsman portrays Stijn, a man who has everything anyone could ever hope for in his life: a successful career in the advertising industry, a best friend (Jeroen Willems), his beautiful wife Carmen (Carice van Houten) and a young daughter. Unfortunately, an innocent visit to the doctor delivers a terrible judgment that tears Stijn’s perfect life asunder. Diagnosed with breast cancer, Carmen’s life dives into a seemingly endless cycle of hospital trips, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and puking. Stijn is caring, helpful and supportive but begins to seek solace in the arms of gorgeous painter Rose (Anna Drijver). Zipping between the responsibilities to his wife, work commitments and bouts of casual sex with Rose, Stijn soon struggles to discover what his love for Carmen truly means.
Stricken tackles this struggle in a way that feels genuinely believable. To take on an issue as convoluted and delicate as cancer in a compact 109 minutes may prove to be a less than flattering idea but Oerlemans largely succeeds in selling us the heartfelt experiences of a brave woman whose life is quickly devoured by her illness and a man who is confused over his role in the midst of this tragedy. The narrative blossoms in an unhurried and tidy manner, offering a refreshing change of pace from the ill-conceived proceedings and slapdash editing redolent of the manufactured reality that most Hollywood dramas would have you believe.
As you might expect of a film that questions a man's fidelity at some point in time, Stricken isn’t afraid to break out of its pensiveness into unabashed nudity when the occasion calls. All too often, the film juxtaposes scenes of a spirited Carmen braving treatments alone against the backdrop of an uneasy silence with scenes of a blithely unaware Stijn having sensational sex with Rose in her apartment to great effect. This is an approach to the issue that breaks down the barriers of fantasy and competently addresses it on a very intimate and real level. Without spoiling the beats of the plot, I’d say that it’s easy to blame Stijn for the problems that occur but by the end of the film, you’ll come away with a huge sense of respect for the man, his flaws and his sacrifices.
Unmistakably frank and unashamed of it, Stricken is a true revelation. It is genius not only because it’s so meaningful but also because such films rarely get made anymore. If this is any indication of how dramas in the Netherlands are produced, then perhaps it’s sound to entrust more dramas to the Dutch from now on
(When it isn’t about misery that a tragedy brings but a celebration of all things that a tragedy moulds people into)