Plot via Sundance:
Eva struggles with human connection. Now that her younger sister Tess is moving out, and long estranged from her neglectful parents, the fragile Eva is finally truly alone. Already reeling, she’s instinctively revulsed by a social media post announcing the memorial celebration for a long-passed childhood friend. She emotionally recalls her sensitive 13-year-old self in the wake of his death, embracing her role as the third musketeer to a pair of slightly older boys, and how the adolescent riddle game the trio played against the local girls took a deeply unsound turn. Eva decides to return to her home village and confront the scorching summer that altered her life.
Russian Roulette if it is played to its deadly end is a game of losers. One dies. The other lives with survivor guilt. Lose, lose all the way.
Something similar happens in When It Melts, a sordid Dutch drama with a powerful ending directed by Veerle Baetens.
The dual plot play parallel with each other. The past and future of Eva seem to exist at the same time. There is nothing in between, just Eva the preteen (Rosa Marchant) and the adult Eva (Charlotte De Brunner) maybe fifteen years later. The only thing the audience has to cling on is a deadly serious game of truth or dare with a difficult riddle with a difficult answer. There is a man who has hung himself in an empty room. No furniture whatsoever. Just a big puddle of water beneath his feet. How did he do it?
My wife easily guessed the riddle. The observant film watcher will sort out the misdirections, find the real clues and right direction by the time When It Melts ends. The rest will be shocked.
Each wrong guess is a bullet in this game of Russian Roulette. Each wrong guess is one of life’s rabbit hole, to use a mix metaphor. The dread and suspense is that everyone knows the bullet in When It Melts will come. The bullet will hit the mark. The game will end with losers all around. Memories of ice will linger.
When It Melts gets the sordid dynamics of childhood leaning into adulthood right, particularly how pubescent lust unchecked can rewrite friendship, and how mean girls can be truly mean and how mean boys at play can change and destroy both the history and future of their living playthings.
When It Melts gets a 3.5 out of 5, a B+.
BART VAN LANGENDONCK
BASED ON THE NOVEL BY
FREDERIC VAN ZANDYCKE
CHARLOTTE DE BRUYNE
THE PARTY FILM SALES
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