Stricken (Dutch)

Stricken follows the life of Dutch philanderer Stijn(Barry Atsma), a guy who has to negotiate between his love for women and his love for woman, in this case his beautiful wife Carmen (Carice van Houten). When his wife is stricken with cancer, Stijn makes an effort to become a better husband and father, but soon puts himself in the way of temptation when he hits on Roos (Anna Drijver), a beautiful young artist.

Ostensibly a romance but more of a moral conundrum, Stricken is a problematic film in both conception and execution. The film features a good-looking cast that play ambivalently selfish, occasionally dislikable characters, beautiful visuals that are marred by a heavy-handed soundtrack, and a touching portrait of cancer intertwined with some predictable melodrama. Stijn as a character is highly imperfect in his morals, and even at the end of the movie, we`re unable to conclude if he`s truly grown to be a responsible adult, or if he`s still susceptible of regression into immaturity. If you`re looking for the black-and-white morality that comes prepackaged with most Hollywood romances, you`re unlikely to find it here.

With more ambiguity than one of Shakespeare`s problem plays, Stricken is a beautifully crafted Dutch melodrama that will exasperate as much as it will entertain. The film`s exploration of its thematic matter is complex and imperfect, but then again, so are most forms of love in real life. Whether this translates to good cinema or not ultimately boils down to individual taste.

Summary: He loves me, he loves me not…
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Raphael Lim

Opens: 5 July 2012
Rated R21: Sexual Scene and Nudity