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A REVIEW OF THE FILM NIGHT TRIP (1982)

 

Nachttocht (Night Trip) is a Dutch film of 1982 directed by Nick van den Boezem. It stars Abel Claassen and Kees Heyne, and is 63 minutes long. The following review was published in the eleventh issue, March 1982, pp. 4-5, of Pan, a magazine about boy-love, published by Spartacus in Amsterdam.

 

HILVERSUM, NETHERLANDS   At 9 o’clock Sunday evening, February 21, the  VARA service which shares National  Dutch Television with a half-dozen others, presented a beautiful 60-minute  drama about the converse of “paedophilia” -- the erotic response a normal Western boy can have to an adult male who takes an interest in him. Nachttocht (Night trip) shows 12-year-old Thomas literally in love with his hero, 23-year-old Frank, sport instructor at an Amsterdam rowing club, and very much with the approval of the boy’s mother. During at least the first half of the film it is quite evident that Frank is reacting positively to the boy’s physical advances. In one subtly suggestive scene, when a rowing party has pulled up on the banks of Het Amsterdamse Bos, the big city park, and the other boys have swarmed off in search of mischief or adventure, Thomas finds Frank sprawled on the grass alone, flops down beside him, bites off the end of the ice-cream cone he has just bought and, as they talk, seductively drips the melt upon Frank’s face. There is also a lot of groping around in Frank’s pocket -- for a tube of chap-stick.

The plot thickens when a night rowing trip through the lighted canals of Amsterdam is planned and Frank, at the last moment, informs his young friend that someone else will be the leader -- because he has to participate in the birthday celebration of his niece. Thomas, unwillingly, goes off on the trip, but a thunderstorm spoils the event and the boy makes his way home, only to find his friend in bed with his mother!

The boy’s reaction is rather extreme: he runs away, even fakes a suicide, but a sort of reconciliation is achieved at the end. In a remarkably effective cinematic close, the camera circles slowly two times around the three participants in this love triangle as they drink a cup of coffee in the sport club canteen and grope their way, through speech, to an understanding of what has happened. A very Dutch approach to the crises that come with being human and one which other countries could do worse than emulate.

The honest, sensitive script (his first for television) was provided by Marc Fiolet and the production was mounted by Nick van den Boezem who is proving to be one of the very best directors in The Netherlands. Van den Boezem has many interests, in the distinctive Dutch Cabaret, in comedy, theatre and music. He got marvellous performances from his three chief actors: Cox Habbema was warm and sympathetic as the divorced mother; Cees Heijne played a superb gangling sport leader – “Just a big child himself”, as one of the characters said. Most remarkable was the complete absorption in the role of Thomas by 12-year-old Abel Claesen who was equally natural and convincing when he was being seductive, angry, suicidal, or just standing naked under the shower.

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