Movie Review: Antonia’s Line (1995)

Title: Antonia’s Line
Release Date: 21 September 1995
Director: Marleen Gorris
Production Company: Bergen | Prime Time | Bard Entertainments | Nederlandse Programma Stichting (NPS)

I’m pretty sure that I’ve never watched a Dutch movie before.  This one is described as a “feminist fairy tale” about several generations of women creating an intentional community of the castoffs and misfits of society in a Dutch farming village.  Recently widowed Antonia (Willeke van Ammelrooy) returns to her childhood home with her nearly adult daughter Danielle (Els Dottermans) just after the liberation of the Netherlands by the Allies.

Establishing a farm, Antonia refuses to marry widower Farmer Bas (Jan Decleir), but agrees to have a relationship with him.  Meanwhile, Danielle decides she wants to have a baby but no husband, and they visit a city to find a man to impregenate her.  Danielle’s daughter Thérèse (portrayed at various ages by Carolien Spoor, Esther Vriesendorp, and Veerle van Overloop) is a child prodigy in mathematics and composing music who forms a special bond with Crooked Finger (Mil Seghers), the community’s resident nihilistic philosopher. Thérèse’s daughter, Sarah (Thyrza Ravesteijn), narrates the story of four generations of women in her family.

The movie has the feel of many indie movies from the 90s with a mix of comedy and drama and eccentric characters, punctuated by moments of brutality – including rape, murder, and suicide.  The film covers five decades but you have to look at subtle changes in the background to try to pinpoint what year it may be.  The movie pairs well with Like Water for Chocolate in that it focuses on the community of women over an extended period of time, although I feel there’s another movie that is even more similar that I can’t put my finger on it.

Antonia’s world is one where women are liberated, people can pursue their dreams, and all types are welcome.  It’s not perfect, and things do go very wrong, but overall it looks like a good place.  I’m glad I was able to visit it in this lovingly-made film.

Rating: ****