›› Just Friends - Gewoon Vrienden ‹‹

a film by Annemarie van de Mond.

2018 | 80 mins | Netherlands.

the captivating story of young love.

Dave says:

You know, there's certain films that you just know that you're going to enjoy, even before the opening titles have rolled. Well, this beautifully played telemovie is one of them, telling the age-old story of boy meets boy, boy falls out with boy and well, you know how it ends.

For here cue the life of Joris (Josha Stradowski); a good-looking young man from a well-off family, thanks to the engineering prowess of his late, by eleven years or so father and a man whose ashes nobody seems to know what to do with. In particular Joris' cold-hearted, or so it would appear mother Simone (Tanja Jess) and his happily married sister Moon (Melody Klaver); both are whom are adamant that they will NOT have 'that urn' anywhere in their home. Not that Simone would notice, given she's more often than not off on her travels in her narcissistic quest to forever stay young - the plastic way. All of which finds Joris spending more time with his close to eighty-year-old grandmother Ans (Jenny Arean) who finds herself in urgent need of a home help. And as luck would have it, surfing instructor with no one to teach Yad (Majd Mardo); namely a cutie only recently returned from sampling the hedonistic delights of Amsterdam, is in need of a job. No prize then for guessing that he's soon to be found lending a helping hand at Joris' grandmother's home, where the two meet and fall in love faster than Joris can fly his aerial drone in the sky. Only between time out windsurfing and getting up close and personal with each other, could the sun-drenched days of their relationship, be heading into stormy weather?

Written by Henk Burger and directed by Annemarie van de Mond with a clear eye as to their target audience, this comical, poignant, uplifting, yet equally homoerotic work has a lot going for it; in particular the on-screen chemistry between Majd Mardo and Josha Stradowski; the latter of Caged fame. Together they shine as two openly gay men, no coming out angst here folks, who whilst different in temperament in so many ways, come to find in each other their Mr Right. Yet as wondrous as they are as the good old-fashioned lover boys of the piece, the star of the show is Arean who excels as a grandmother ever working her Machiavellian magic to bring the two young men together, aided as she is by some of the best lines in the film. Then again, this is a feature built on solid support, with Nazmiye Oral as Yad's "no man is good enough for my son" mother Maryam, amongst a host of cast members providing the films' narrative foundations, that include Joris' father in a touching flashback sequence and notably Tanja Jess' vibrant turn as the mother of all Barbie lookalikes.

In short, there's much to like here; from the lush cinematography of Tjitte Jan Nieuwkoop, to the captivating story of young love, to that of how a family finally comes to deal with the passing of their beloved patriarch and the healing process therein. And whilst there's no surprise in the films' close-of-play, frankly that's all part of its charm, as Van de Mond delivers what it says on the cinematic box just friends and more! An absolute delight.

›› available as part of the PECCADILLO PICTURES catalogue: 13th May, 2019 / UK.
›› posted: Thursday, 2nd December, 2021.

Gay Visibility - overt | Nudity - bare-arsed cheek | Overall - file under ... 4 stars

›› copyright © 2021 David Hall - www.gaycelluloid.com ‹‹
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