It’s pretty clear from watching Littekens, Martin Beek’s first feature length film, that the man really knows how to shoot a music video. There is very little silence in the movie. The music, which ranges from over emotional strings to over the top dubstep, is always buzzing in the background, giving us a little peeks into the main characters feelings. Beek’s best shots (and some of them really are gorgeous) take place when he throws away the dialogue and just lets the music and the emotions of the scene take over. Unfortunately, some of Beeks clunkiest moments happen when he gets stuck on plot and character development. While it has its problems, Littekens is a weirdly fun movie, despite it’s subject matter and the “based on a true story” tag.
Beek’s Dutch thriller begins with Suzanne, a young girl who struggles openly with her mother over the fact that she doesn’t know her father’s identity. Suzanne’s mother, who is a cruel alcoholic, refuses to give her any information, claiming she was a test tube baby. Finally after years of begging for some information regarding her father, Suzanne’s grandfather obliges and gives her his name and address. Suzanne immediately packs a bag and travels quite a distance to meet the man, but instead she is captured and kept as a sex slave. From that point on, the movie only gets darker as Suzanne’s unfortunate past is revealed.
Littekens shines when Beek moves away from the plot and focuses on his characters’ emotions. Suzanne’s traveling scenes are beautiful. You can really feel her loneliness and apprehension. In fact, I felt like I learned more about the character during these quiet scenes than I did when she was compulsively talking about her long lost father. Likewise, there are a few scenes when Suzanne has been kidnapped that really go all out. There is dubstep, fast cuts, tilted cameras, ladies screaming. I honestly felt like I had suddenly been dropped into a Skrillex music video. While I couldn’t count myself as a Skrillex fan, these were some of the liveliest, creepiest, and strangely fun scenes in the entire film.
On the other hand, much of the dialogue is unwieldy and the plot is a little forced. I didn’t really feel like I even understood or cared about Suzanne for most of the film (until the bus scenes, really). Her motivation and obsession with her father seemed random and a little over the top. The ending in particular seemed disjointed. It felt kind of like Beek ran out of time and had to explain everything away very quickly, which was incredibly disappointing, since the movie had just become very suspenseful.
Despite it’s shortcomings, Littekens is still a fun film. While, at times I was a little bored with the plot, it definitely became more interesting once Suzanne left her home. There were even a few times where the cinematography was really stunning. I can really see Beek doing great things in the thriller/horror genre in the future, just as long as he has a better script.