Monday, September 14, 2009

My Queen Karo

Showing at the Toronto International Film Festival: My Queen Karo, directed by Dorothée van den Berghe

Synopsis from the TIFF website:

Amsterdam's squatter culture is as famous a utopian experiment as American communes, but seen far less often in films. Dorothée van den Berghe draws from her own experiences growing up in Amsterdam's bohemian environment in My Queen Karo, her spirited second feature. If property is evil, what can be said about the possessiveness that comes with love and family?

It begins as the most incredible adventure. In 1974, Karo (Anna Franziska Jäger) sets out from Belgium with her dad, Raven (Matthias Schoenaerts), and her mom, Dalia (Déborah François), to start a new life in Amsterdam. They join a group that is taking over a vacant building and setting up a new society based around the vast common room they all share. No walls, no rules – only love.

Raven builds huge, fantastical see-saw constructions on which Karo and her friends can play. Karo even gets a swing in the common room, which gives her a delirious view of the adults below: eating, bathing and debating together, forging an alternative to conventional morality both in their own bodies and in their daily lives.

But when Raven begins a flirtation with a new Dutch woman, he puts his ideals in defence of his desire. How can his wife put an exclusive claim on him? How can Karo insist on loyalty to her mother? “We came here to be free, and already you're laying down rules?” he asks. And so the tight unit of mother, father and daughter that left Belgium begins to fray as the forces of free love and jealousy threaten to pull it apart in Amsterdam.

The easy path from this premise would be a morality tale about how conventional ethics are conventional for good reason. But van den Berghe, perhaps because she once lived in this world, sees far more nuance. She allows any moral judgments – from scenes of children witnessing their parents' physical affection, for example – to rest with the viewer. In fact, My Queen Karo holds on to only one conclusion: that for new social alternatives to take root, they must first contend with old human emotions.

No comments:

Post a Comment