Quality Time: Five short stories
by Roberto Oggiano
- Dutch director Daan Bakker is competing at Rotterdam with five short and entertaining stories about five young adults who can’t manage to leave the family nest
Quality Time [+see also:
film profile] is the film with which Daan Bakker is competing in the Hivos Tiger Competition section of the International Film Festival Rotterdam this year: it comprises five downcast but entertaining stories that recall the absurd and eccentric comedy of Roy Anderson in A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence [+see also:
interview: Roy Andersson
The first is an animated story, the story of Koen, who stuffs himself silly with milk and ham at the annual family reunion to make his uncle Ben happy: the clichés of family lunches are all there, as after all, family meals all look alike, as even Tolstoy said at the beginning of Anna Karenina.
The second revolves around Stefan, who also still lives with his parents despite being an adult, who is taking an unlikely photography course, and wanders around the Dutch countryside in search of the places of his childhood: incredible aerial shots from above that swoop down give us a sense of just how detached Stefan feels from everyone.
The third episode, which is perhaps also the most entertaining, tells the story of Kjell, of his fear of socialising and his attempt to overcome it by travelling back in time: not only does he fail, but he actually makes things worse.
Karel doesn’t have the best of luck either. Adbucted by aliens as a child, he is mollycoddled by his mother and father, in a chain of grotesque and hilarious events.
Last but not least there’s Jef. Jef is insecure, but finds redemption in his guitar, completely unaware of what’s going on around him: hyper-sensitivity and egocentricity can be afflictions or cures, depending on how you look at them.
Although the film is divided into episodes, its substance is consistent, and unease is portrayed in a tragicomic way, with humour used as an antibody, the key that allows us to laugh about depression without mocking those suffering from it. The inventiveness and diverse range of styles used to narrate each story is imbued with the poetic dynamism of Daan Bakker, who succeeds in recounting the sense of insecurity and loneliness that reigns supreme in contemporary society with levity.
(Translated from Italian)