Boven is het stil
(It’s All So Quiet)
Directed by Nanouk Leopold
1h 33 mins, The Netherlands, 2013
I’ve watched a handful of movies lately that focus on the loneliness of their gay male characters — Harvest, Yossi, A Single Man, La leon and now this one, Boven is het stil. As counter-intuitive as it seems, I find them refreshing. They remind us that the closet — or closets, plural, which makes more sense for the varied depictions I’ve seen — has emotional costs rather than simply political or purely social ones and that the individuals suffering inside them experience them first as that.
This gentle and quiet character study of a 50-something man taking care of his dying father on a tiny farm in the Netherlands has emotional costs on the patient viewer, as well, as we witness his subsequent rejection of two potential lovers. His self-inflicted isolation mirrors what he perceives as his father’s rejection of him. The film, despite what’s expected from its elliptical narrative strategy, puts too fine a point on that in a couple lines of unnecessary dialogue, but overall it’s a powerful portrait, made even more so by a final, self-reflexive intertitle.