Bachelor dairy farmer, Henk (Jeroen Willems) divides his time between working with his cows and caring for his bedridden father, whom he treats with far less affection than the sheep he keeps as pets. When we first meet him, he’s roughly relocating his dad from a room downstairs to a bedroom at the top of the house, with a view to redecorating and cleaning away the past. But slowly we come to realise that Henk is a man utterly trapped in isolation by a past that constantly hovers on the tip of his tongue, the words bitten back and silently swallowed.
With meticulous attention to detail, Dutch director, Nanouk Leopold takes her time to tell Henk’s story, presenting a life and a cinematic landscape that are as bleak as they are lyrical. Her ability to keep the viewer riveted as she slowly drip-feeds nuggets of information to reveal the crux of Henk’s stunted sexuality, shows an artist in complete control of her material. Men come and go, offering love to the inaccessible farmer, but it is only the dying old man upstairs who can ultimately set him free.
‘austere but subtly powerful’
‘a poignant reflection on solitude, homosexual repression and aging’
The Hollywood Reporter