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Woman in a Twilight Garden (movie review)

What I like in my movie odyssey is the pleasant find now and then of a movie I would never think of looking for, but found because I was looking for something completely different. Woman in a Twilight Garden (or, in its original title, Een vrouw tussen hond en wolf, A Woman between dog and wolf, a 1979 movie) is one example of it.

Can you find young JCVD here?

I’ve found this nice flick while looking for a first movie Jean-Claude Van Damme was in, and that’s the movie. He’s in just for a few seconds as one of the moviegoers in the cinema, but hey, if you want to cover good ol’ JCVD’s career, it’s important one. We all have our start somewhere.

I haven’t expected this co-production between Belgium and France (although Dutch spoken) drama being of any interest to me, actually, I was more like “OK, let’s get through with it” to tick “seen” in JCVD filmography. To my surprise, I’ve found more than a decent drama, and came to like it a lot.

The setting of the story is Belgian city of Antwerp, where Lieve (Marie-Christine Barrault) lives with her husband Adriaan (Rutger Hauer). It’s 1940s and he is a proud Flemish nationalistic idealist, standing for his country and nation, eventually going to the Eastern Front to fight against the Communist Russia as a part of Belgian Waffen SS. Lieve stays at home and try to just go by until she is forced to take in a Resistance fighter François. As it’s quite often a case, she eventually falls in love with him, which – in turn – helps her to avoid the fate of many of those deemed Nazi colaborators in then newly liberated Belgium (and we can have a glimpse of the fate of some). Adriaan returns from the Eastern Front and after spending some time in the prison, he’s back home.

Lieve is still torn between the love for Adriaan and the love for François, but she decides to stay with Adriaan.

What the movie describes really well, is not only a woman in love with two men, or the idealistic nature of Flemish nationalists, but also the hypocritical attitude of many ordinary folks. Those who suddenly became “resistance fighters” straight after the war has been over, the revenge seeking crowd turning on the women whose only crime was to be a lover of some German soldier, the hypocrisy of Lieve’s own family (the great scene in her uncle’s house about food), the (usual) hypocrisy of the Catholic clergy… many things one could – and would – see in times like those.

I liked it a lot. It might be slow pacing, but I could really relate to all the persons in the movie. And to see Rutger Hauer in one of his early roles was also a bonus.

Yeah, sometimes one stumbles upon an unknown gem. This one is definitely a gem for me.

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Rudolf Schütz

A father to two little perpetuum mobiles called kids, Rudolf is a main force behind The Rubber Axe webzine, a bookworm, musick lover and a movie fan - not to mention his virgin forays into the comics and board/card games.

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