The Deflowering of Eva Van Endwas an official selection for over ten film festivals.
Eva quietly announces at the family dinner table that a German exchange student will be staying with them for two weeks. No one listens to or hears what Eva has to say. Her father is oblivious, her mother preoccupied and her older brother is focused on his own life. Her other brother is unfocused - stoned most of the time.
The first few scenes were both funny and poignant. The family situation is not that unbelievable. I felt incredibly sad for Eva - brilliantly played by Vivian Dierickx. She's awkward, overweight, ostracised at school and ignored at home.
When Veit (Rafael Gareisen) arrives, he is a blond god, seemingly good at everything and anything and uncannily able to target what each family member seems to need.
But, although this film has been described as a dark comedy and the cover art seems to support that view, I found that it took a more serious tone than I initially imagined it would.
Veit is the catalyst that triggers upheaval and great change within this dysfunctional family. Secrets are revealed, scabs are picked off and change is inevitable. All for the good? Well, I think each viewer would have a different answer. As the film ended, I wondered about Eva's place in her family - things have changed, but it is still not spelled out. But the last group shot is telling. ten Horn also uses a 'falling star' metaphor to great effect.
After the film, while reading the liner notes, I discovered that the idea for this film sprang from ten Horn's own experience with a German exchange student. Makes me wonder which bits are truth.
One of the addition short films included is Basta - ten Horn's film thesis, that specialized in animation. The Deflowering of Eva Van End also has a bit of an animation feel to it. There are many short shots that showcase what the director wants us to see, then quickly cuts away. As the film picks up speed in the last twenty minutes, the cutaways multiply. We know what is happening to each family member and are just waiting to see how those moments will come together and what it means for the Van End family.
The Deflowering of Eva Van End is a strangely moving, quirky film. Bits of it are squirmy, bits are sad, bits are affirming, but as a package it's very, very watchable. I quite enjoyed it.
As mentioned, there are two short films included, both directed by ten Horn. I didn't enjoy Basta at all. Perhaps it was the style (slightly macabre Whoville tone with no real dialogue) or the material, but it was a miss for me. The second, Arie, was quite good. A realistic view, rather than the animated style is more appealing to this viewer. And I liked the idea - an old man's pet bird dies, but with an unexpected ending)