Will van Kralingen and Wilbert Gieske are more than Good.
A GOOD DEATH (Wannie De Wijn). 88 minutes. Subtitled. Opens Friday (March 29). For venues and times, see listings. Rating: NNNN
A Good Death is never anything more than a filmed play, but it never tries to be. Wannie De Wijn elegantly translates to the screen his own stage production about a Dutch family gathering for the assisted suicide of a terminally ill member.
Apart from a few elegant camera movements and a sense of the spacious home in which the story plays out, it's a meat-and-potatoes presentation, the better to focus on the characters and their relationships.
Ben (Wilbert Gieske) has chosen to end his life before terminal lung cancer reduces him to a shell. His lover (Will van Kralingen), daughter (Saskia Bonarius, who co-wrote the script) and brothers (Huub Stapel and Hans Thissen) have gathered, along with the old friend (Peter Tuinman) who will administer the lethal injection the next morning. Over the course of the evening, old wounds reopen and new understandings are reached.
Though not a particularly original story (I've seen three or four variations on it in the last couple of years alone), it's well-acted and solidly directed, and allows every character some measure of humanity.
It's also interesting that when anyone argues against Ben's decision, it's more about processing their shock than to make a moral objection for the sake of complicating the plot.
This is a movie for grown-ups. We could use a few more.