Love Life (2009)

Love Life (2009)

Static Mass Rating: 5/5

Release Date: December 3rd, 2010
Certificate: tbc
Running Time: 105 minutes

Director: Reinout Oerlemans

Cast: Carice van Houten, Barry Atsma, Anna Drijver, Jeroen Willems

Read our exclusive interview with Carice van Houten >>

Reinout Oerlemans is a former soap opera actor from the Netherlands. He has also worked as a television presenter and producer, but now he turns his hand to directing and brings us his first feature film. Based on the book “Komt een vrouw bij de dokter (A Woman Goes To The Doctor)” by Ray Kluun, Love Life is a portrait of lives torn apart by cancer.

When successful 30-something Stijn (Barry Atsma) meets the free-spirited Carmen (Carice van Houten) they fall madly in love and embark on a passionate affair. Soon, they also make it down the aisle and even though Carmen knows Stijn has an unfaithful streak, she decides to take him as he is. They work together in advertising in Amsterdam and when they have a baby girl; their happy lives couldn’t be more perfect together.

Love Life (2010) Barry Atsma and Carice van Houten

It’s the calm before the storm because next comes Carmen’s diagnosis of breast cancer. Though she tries to stay strong for her family, her mastectomy and chemotherapy puts a strain on Stijn who is unable to cope. Caring for his sick wife, he begins to lose his passion for her and eventually ends up falling in love with another woman, Roos (Anna Drijver) whom he’s been seeing on the side.

Love Life is beautifully shot and its performances are nothing less than stunning. Van Houten starts off strong and free-spirited and tries to keep going despite the prospect of disfigurement and what the chemotherapy will do to her, but we get to see her spirit gradually broken and its in part due to Stijn’s behaviour. Atsma maintains a compelling performance as the husband you love and hate in equal doses. Drijver as the other woman who threatens the couple’s marriage even further turns in a very sympathetic performance and offers Stijn a shoulder to cry on, yet you never forget that while he is crying on her shoulder, Carmen is alone at home, vomiting from the effects of the chemo.

Love Life (2010) Barry Atsma and Anna Drijver

Love Life is astounding, though its message is relatively simple. The movie has resonated with audiences in the Netherlands where it spent 3 weeks at the #1 spot in November 2009, only to be knocked off by Avatar, though it remains one of the countries biggest hits of that year, starring one of its biggest stars, Carice Van Houten (read our exclusive interview with her here).

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