Academy Award-winner for Best Foreign Language Film, this psychological drama about a bastard son's obsession with his cruel father is as dynamic as it is dark. Combining the gritty realism of a 1920s Dutch ghetto with an almost fantastical portrayal of father-son emotional warfare, van Diem may well have forged a new genre: Dickensian Gothic. A young lawyer, Katadreuffe (van Huet), is arrested for the murder of Dreverhaven (Decleir), a fat cat bailiff who evicts tenants by personally kicking them out on the street. Katadreuffe reveals to the police that he is the estranged son of Dreverhaven, who it seems was no more compassionate as a father than he was as a bailiff. In flashbacks, we learn of Katadreuffe's lonely, impoverished life with a silent mother (Schuurman), his estrangement from Dreverhaven, and his law school ambitions. Determined to pull himself up by the bootstraps, Katadreuffe unwittingly borrows money from a credit union run by Dreverhaven and finds himself locked in a vicious game of power with dear old dad. From Katadreuffe's vampire-like showdown with Dreverhaven to his tender romance with a law secretary (van den Dop), van Diem's character study is a haunting adventure.
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