Thursday, August 6, 2015

RECKLESS (aka BLOEDLINK) (2104) DVD review

Reckless (aka Bloedlink) (2014) d. Joram Lursen (Netherlands)

Ex-cons Victor (Tygo Gernandt) and Rico (Marwan Kenzari) have a plan: kidnap rich Mr. Temming’s daughter Laura (Sarah Chronis), hold her for a 4 million Euro ransom, and escape scot free. They’ve calculated every detail, including soundproofing a vacant apartment, buying multiple changes of clothes, disposable cell phones, untraceable vehicles, and so forth. Their victim is strong, but they are stronger and they've thought through every step. Bag her, get her in the van, tie her to the bed, strip her naked, take photos with today's newspaper, and email the thumb drives to her dad with their demands. But as the long day turns into night into the next day, tangled emotional webs come into play, with loyalties shifting and smashing and crumbling away.

The authorial credit for this Dutch thriller, now available on DVD from Artsploitation Films reads, "Based on the film The Disappearance of Alice Creed," and boy howdy, is that no exaggeration. Frank Ketelaar is billed as the screenwriter, but a more accurate term might be "translator/adaptor," since he adheres so closely to Brit writer/director J. Blakeson’s original English-language script that one might have thought the source material was Shakespeare. Not that this is a bad idea - Blakeson's tightly crafted caper is a supremely enjoyable yarn and one would have to have a pretty good reason to change anything up. But Ketelaar barely changes ANYTHING, while director Lursen even co-opts a goodly number of the previous film's shots and framing, making the whole enterprise a little puzzling and potentially pointless.

Remember when Michael Haneke remade his own 1997 Funny Games shot-for-shot ten years later in English with proven Hollywood stars Tim Roth and Naomi Watts? Watching Reckless is a similar phenomenon in reverse, except that the Anglican faces aren’t as immediately recognizable (although Gemma Arterton’s star has certainly been on the rise, with character man Eddie Marsan staying equally busy). On the one hand, this allows us to invest wholly in the characters played here by Gernandt, Kenzari, and Chronis (the only three people who appear onscreen in the entire film), since most English-language viewers will not have any previous exposure to the actors in question and thereby no accompanying baggage.

On the other hand, if you've already seen Blakeson's version, this is akin to watching a stage play with an alternate cast performing the same material with the same blocking, light cues, etc. It's inherently different, but it's also pretty much the same.

Now, by no means are we watching second-stringers here: Gernandt, with his close-cropped hairstyle and intense gaze is a perfect alpha heavy, with Kenzari the clearly conflicted beta. Chronis is equal parts feisty and fearful, a victim by circumstance but not in spirit, and consistently displays her resourcefulness and never-say-die attitude.

Ketelaar does add one tiny character detail in Rico's makeup (see SPOILER below) that minimizes some of the ambiguity, a touch that will satisfy or not depending on individual viewer preferences. (Personally, I appreciated it, but a revisit of Creed also made me enjoy the original tack a little more.) And Lursen clips right along, with a running time that is five minutes shorter than Blakeson's, and while there aren't a lot of notable deviations in terms of style, the whole things works just fine.

Ultimately, do I think both films are worthwhile? Yes. Does the everyday viewer really need to see both? Probably not. It really comes down to whether you prefer your tied-up victims to be blonde or brunette, and whether you want to read subtitles or not. Your move.

Reckless is available now from Artsploitation Films and can be ordered HERE:


The only differences I noted (other than Alice/Laura's initial wardrobe choices before she's unceremoniously redressed in a track suit in both cases) is that there's no mention of the passports in Danny/Rico's coat in the Disappearance of Alice Creed, and that film concludes with a freeze frame of Alice driving off instead of watching the plane take off with Laura presumably on board.


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