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Gooische Vrouwen (2011)
Director: Will Koopman
Cast: Linda de Mol, Susan Visser, Tjitske Reidinga
Plot: Four women have had enough with their husbands and lives in Holland. They decide to head to Paris for a break, but discover that a self-help seminar will not change their lives.
The film Gooische Vrouwen is pretty much the Dutch version of the well-known American made films titled “Sex and the City”; also using famous actresses and real-life situations with a solution to its plot that is incredibly unorthodox. Although Gooische Vrouwen was originally a TV series, the creators announced that they were working on a film adaptation because of how loved the show was, much like its American counterpart. It was released in 2011.
It follows the lives of 4 women, all best friends, who are all dealing with what could be considered a mid-life crisis. Cheryl catches her husband cheating on her, Anouk half-accidentally commits art fraud, Claire leaves her fiancé at the altar, and Roelien fights with her family because of her environmentalist views. After Claire’s breakdown at the altar, the women find themselves sat around the kitchen table, surrounded by unopened wedding presents and a ruined outdoor venue, depressed with their lives and angry at their husbands or partners. It is at this time that Cheryl (Linda de Mol), convinces the women to pack their bags and head off to France for a self-help seminar which takes place in a French castle.
Although the seminar is of no use to any of the women, as the eccentric female teacher orders all the participants to sit in a circle while naked and explain who they are and why they have come, it is presented as if the director, Will Koopman, considered such seminars to be an utter waste of time and money. After this failed attempt at cheering themselves up, the women head into Paris for a shopping trip, blowing their money on clothes, shoes and food. Throughout the time the women have left their homes and husbands behind, their other halves reflect on the mistakes they have made and begin to miss their wives, with Cheryl’s husband leaving numerous messages on her mobile as he wants to surprise her at his concert by dedicating a song to her. It is only when Anouk receives a voicemail from her 14 year old daughter, Vlinder, about her having started her period that they rush home, as she believes it is necessary to be there for her very first one. Their journey back shows the women hurriedly changing into appropriate evening outfits whilst driving above the speed limit, causing the police to pull them over and eventually help them return home faster once Anouk explains the situation.
Once the four friends arrive home, they discover that their families welcome them back with open arms and have become more considerate of their reasons for leaving. We see how Roelien’s husband and two daughters tie themselves to the tree she had attempted to protect as a sign of protest, showing the audience that her family are no longer embarrassed about the woman she is and learn to embrace Roelien’s drive to improve the world around her.
This film is obviously a feel-good comedy for mature women who can relate to odd situations in which they have been there for their best friends in times of crisis. It is a market which is not often touched upon, as most movies are aimed at a younger generation when it comes to comedies, using crass language and awkward sex situations that parents or single older women are not interested in at all. This film definitely celebrates womanhood in every way possible; it’s perfectly fine to be proud of a brand new kitchen and even be racist about a situation you know nothing about (Claire’s daughter moves to Burkina Faso with her baby son which she feels is the wrong decision to make), as it shows how much she cares about her family, although she expresses it through such a naïve manner. The film depicts many scenes which are simply not realistic, but touches upon a wide variety of real-life issues many women face once they hit 40. For example, how they look or act becomes more of a concern, as Cheryl’s husband buys her vouchers for a boob job, which ultimately causes her to feel offended. Although it is highly unlikely that any woman would receive such vouchers for their birthday, I am sure it is something which many women consider once they start aging.
In conclusion, Gooische Vrouwen is not a greatly artistic film, as the soundtrack is filled with cliché up-beat songs found in most women’s comedies and the plot itself does not require the audience to pay much attention. However, the balance between unrealistic scenarios and legitimate mid-life crisis concerns creates the perfect girls night in movie, especially for women of a certain age. Gooische Vrouwen taps into a market that many producers forget about when they choose to focus on younger generations and their current problems and this film must be commended for that.