Matterhorn review (LOCO London Comedy Film Festival)
It had me confounded, in the most delightful way, and left me with a big stupid grin on my face and tears in my eyes.
I’m “biast” (pro):
I’m “biast” (con): nothing
(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)
If you see lots of movies, eventually it gets to be easy to predict where the latest one is going. But the deeply weird Matterhorn had me confounded, in the most delightful way, from the start. We meet Fred (Ton Kas), who lives alone in a small Dutch town, just a few doors down from his austere church; a photo of, perhaps, a wife and son hints that life was once fuller, but now the high point of Fred’s day appears to his bland meat-and-potatoes dinner, at 6pm on the dot, and not a moment sooner. Writer-director Diederik Ebbinge allows us to be poignantly amused by the smallness and the limitations of Fred’s strict routine… and then lets us see that Fred is, perhaps, itching to break out of them. For a tiff with a neighbor, Kamps (Porgy Franssen), over the handling of a strange, nearly silent vagabond (René van ’t Hof), who has wandered into the street and says nothing but “Yeah” in response to any question, brings out the Good Samaritan in Fred. And… I don’t want to say more. Even to reveal what the title refers to would be a bit of a spoiler, and would diminish it, for it only takes on its fullest significance very close to the end. As wonderful strangeness piles up here, I couldn’t even begin to guess just where the heck Ebbinge and his oddly compelling cast were planning to take us, and that is so glorious a thing for someone so familiar with movie tropes as I am that I can barely contain myself. I certainly wouldn’t have predicted at the start that, by the end, this would have made me feel all the feels, and left me with a big stupid grin on my face and tears in my eyes. Along the way, Matterhorn peels away the veneer of hypocrisy that hides pain and loneliness, the veneer of children’s parties that reveals surreal horror, and the veneer of “respectability” that prevents us from sharing around love and acceptance like the endless bounties that they are. There’s a touch of muted retro about the film, a timeless quality that makes you feel as if this could be taking place at any point in the past 40 years, and a sense of grand overarching truth to be found in its very unique and specific events. It’s the sort of movie in which, when someone like Kamps says, as he does, “It’s not about our happiness,” you can at least safely assume that we’re gonna get an expansive refutation of that.
Matterhorn will screen at the 3rd LOCO London Comedy Film Festival; book tickets for Sunday, January 26th, 2014, at BFI Southbank.