Thursday, May 6, 2021

The Columnist Review: A Stylish Satire That Cuts Deep

Genio de Groot	...	Arend Katja Herbers	Katja Herbers	...	Femke Boot Rein Hofman	Rein Hofman	...	Arjen Tol, neighbor Bram van der Kelen	Bram van der Kelen	...	Steven Dood Achraf Koutet	Achraf Koutet	...	Tarik Bos Claire Porro	Claire Porro	...	Anna Boot Harry van Rijthoven	Harry van Rijthoven	...	Head of the school Seno Sever	Seno Sever	...	Politieagent Antoin Peeters	Antoin Peeters	...	Antoin Peeters (uncredited) Matthijs van Nieuwkerk	Matthijs van Nieuwkerk	...	Matthijs van Nieuwkerk (uncredited) Merel Westrik	Merel Westrik	...	Merel Westrik (uncredited)

Release date: May 7, 2021
Running time: 85 minutes
Directed by: Ivo van Aart
Written by: Daan Windhorst
Cast: Katja Herbers, Genio de Groot, Rein Hofman, Bram van der Kelen, Achraf Koutet, Claire Porro

In this darkly funny horror film, Femke Boot (Katja Herbers) is a columnist and writer suffering from endless abusive posts and death threats on social media. Femke is obsessed by these hate-filled messages and spends every moment checking her Twitter feed. This obsession consumes her life and her work suffers as she fails to write her columns and novel. One day, all her pent-up anger and frustration explode in a moment of shocking and unexpected violence. But how long can she continue this double life? Can she hide her nightly murders from her teenage daughter and her new boyfriend, horror writer Steven Dood (Bram van der Kelen)? And is fighting hatred with hatred really the best solution?

Produced by  Sabine Brian	...	producer Wynand Chocolaad	...	line producer Ronald Versteeg	...	producer Kaja Wolffers	...	producerMusic by  Jeffrey van Rossum	Cinematography by  Martijn Cousijn	Film Editing by  Imre Reutelingsperger	 Yamal Stitou
The Columnist has a quirky, irreverent style that is apparent from the start of the film.  The movie has a carefree demeaner to the opening that instantly lets you know that this film has a dark humor to it.  I really loved this style with its hyper realized world and wonderful techno soundtrack.  And the film also does a great job of making the viewer feel the issues that Femke has.  The film uses stifling sounds to simulate the distractions and unease that Femke is feeling when she gets writers block and the overbearing nature of her own feelings of unease.  

The film focuses on Femke Boot and Katja Herbers does an amazing job as this outspoken but outwardly timid columnist.  She is relatable and her subtle portrayal of someone who is dealing with a torrent of negative social media makes her someone to root for, despite the horrible things that she does.  Her character is funny and blunt, saying some very direct things to those around her and it is refreshing to see an outspoken female lead that will take matters into her own hands.  I also liked how her character felt over her head many times during this strange, irreverent serial killer run.  And I also really liked van der Kelen as Steven Dood, who does a great job of showcasing the differences between a public persona and a private one.  His character is outwardly outspoken and vitriolic, but in private he is a very different, more relatable person. 

And speaking of public versus private persona, I loved the way that The Columnist highlighted this dichotomy.  It does a great job of showcasing people who are toxic on the internet yet have a very different mentality when meeting in person.  This idea that people will say things on the internet that they would never say face to face is an important subject to explore in our increasingly polarized times.  And it also does a great job of highlighting how someone can easily drown in the torrent of negative social media comments, and become obsessed with those negative ideas.  It is a risk that anyone who puts themselves out on the internet inherently takes and The Columnist shows the darker side of that while still being an entertaining piece of media.  And the film also does a great job of showcasing how online speech can affect people differently.  Many times the writers thought nothing of the hurtful comments that they made, but to Femke they were horrible affronts that needed to be righted.  And finally, I loved the irony in the film; there are subplots of free speech and the importance of fighting against censorship, which are all happening as Femke is censoring those around her.  

The Columnist is a stylish and entertaining satire--fueled by Katja Herbers's wonderful performance--about the dangers of social media and the very painful effect that online activities can have on real people.  

Watch it.

Directed by  Ivo van Aart	Writing Credits (in alphabetical order)   Daan Windhorst
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The Columnist is available in virtual cinemas starting May 7, 2021.  For showtimes, click here.

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