By Don Simpson | December 3, 2013
Director: Michiel ten Horn
Writers: Michiel ten Horn, Anne Barnhoorn
Starring: Vivian Dierickx, Jacqueline Blom, Ton Kas, Tomer Pawlicki, Abe Dijkman, Rafael Gareisen, Anandi Gall, Freerk Bos, Flip Filz, Giam Kwee, Frans de Wit, Nicanor Zinga, Patricio Wiedermann, Stefan de Walle
On the surface, the van End family seems like a perfect middle class Dutch family. Once we delve beneath the surface, however, it quickly becomes apparent that they are just as dysfunctional as the rest of the world. Evert (Ton Kas), the father, is a spineless company man; at home, his wife and kids ignore all of his suggestions. The real head of the household is the mother, Etty (Jacqueline Blom), but she seems to want to relinquish her power in exchange for a bit of tranquility. The eldest child, Erwin (Tomer Pawlicki), is an acne-riddled floor manager at a large home improvement store and is preparing to move in with his fiancé (Anandi Gall). It is also worth noting that Erwin is Etty’s unabashed favorite child. Next is Manuel (Abe Dijkman), the rude, pot-smoking middle child. Evert shows preference to Manuel, only because he has won so many sausage-eating contests sponsored by Evert’s employer. Last, is the often forgotten and ignored Eva (Vivian Dierickx). It seems the only attention that Eva ever gets is from the bullies at school.
The title of Michiel ten Horn’s The Deflowering of Eva van End is misleading because this film is not just about Eva; rather, it is a smartly balanced, coming-of-age story for the entire van End family. The appearance of a seemingly perfect German exchange student, Veit (Rafael Gareisen), is the catalyst for the family’s journey towards maturity. Clad all in white, Veit is an idyllic person who is kind to everyone and knowledgeable about everything. Veit’s mere presence shines a blemishing spotlight on each member of the van End family. It is not long before they begin to confront their personal insecurities and fears, slowly evolving into better people. First and foremost, Veit showcases the embarrassing lack of communication skills among the van End family; so, as the van Ends begin to pay attention to each other, their family unit grows stronger.
The significance of communication in familiar relationships is the true heart and soul of The Deflowering of Eva van End. As the van Ends learn, just because you live under the same roof as the rest of your family does not mean that you automatically understand each other. Each of the van Ends represents a different personality type. These five people would have probably never chosen to live together if they were not bound together by their shared DNA. They frustrate and embarrass each other, sentencing each one of them to live a solitary existence within the shared household. According to ten Horn’s film, nothing is stronger than family, stressing the importance of accepting each other’s warts and all.
This quirky-yet-dark tale has earned several comparisons to Todd Solondz, specifically Welcome to the Dollhouse, though ten Horn’s perspective is exponentially more optimistic. The closest similarity between the two films is between The Deflowering‘s Eva and Welcome to the Dollhouse‘s Dawn Wiener (Heather Matarazzo), both of whom are socially awkward nerds who desperately crave affection. In both cases, their desperation leads to poor judgements, but the objects of the two pubescent girls’ affections could not be more drastically different, nor could the resulting deflowering.