As a native "Zeeuw" (where the film is shot) it is not easy to pass my bias, but ill give it a try:
Wilde Mossels (Wild Mussels) is first and foremost a cultural movie; it finds its origin in the influence geographical location, soil, terrain, climate, and so on have on the culture and ultimately on the people's personality. Zeeland has always been a harsh country, unforgiving. People have always had to fight against the water, wind and the heavy clay soil. Those that are born and raised here are said to have been dragged out of the clay, instead of being born...
As the typical farm/fishing region rapidly changed from the 1960ies onward to an industrial area, so did the demography. Lots of new people settled here, first from all over the Netherlands, then from other countries. Dikes were elevated, with freeways on them, tunnels, and so on, unlocking the social isolated communities, with each their own dialect and folklore. The world changed in fast forward the last 40 or 50 years.
Both these phenomena are used wisely in this movie, making it a cultural pearl in a sea of empty oysters.
Flatlanders, lowlanders or floodlanders will be surprised to find the horizon they know so well on TV this time. And even thought this landscape is flat as a dime and will bore you to death eventually, it is interesting to see it on screen. People from regions where seeing the horizon is a rarity are impressed with this land that i call home and yes, it is beautiful to see the sun set in the Westerschelde, or Oosterschelde, or any part of the delta, with the Northsea in the background, but its so terribly flat and there is not a square foot of land that isn't somebodies property. You highlanders will love this...
I don't think there is a part in the world where there are more shades of grey than here. (yes I've been around).
In this setting 3 youngsters are trying to get away, daydreaming of far away places where life is lived, not dragged along from 'mosselfeest' to 'mosselsfeest' (which is once a year...) They kept the accents as they are here (although still varying from one village to the next), which is a great achievement for actors that aren't native here. (I raised my daughters with standard dutch and when i talk with my older sister and switch to Terneuzen-dialect, she cannot understand what we are talking about...) This choice to keep the accent, instead of switching to international English, that would surely have reached a larger audience, is something i love, but for international viewers may be a downside. It is the only movie with a local accent and since dialects are disappearing, it will probably stay so. The youngsters try to find ways to get away from everyday life, doing 'crazy things', using some drugs and plan other crazy things to make their dreams come true. It all doesn't work out like they hoped and it ultimately ends tragically. The shrieks from the seagulls warned of this mishap, but the roots have faded.
There is quite some humor in the movie, romance, drama. Nice story. Camera-work is very good; great shots of the wideness of the landscape. Acting is very good. That alone is worth a peek, but the ultimate upper in this movie is the cultural angle. If you like this kind of movies (whale rider for instance is similar in this respect), this is definitely your thing.
I rated it 10, partly because i'm dragged out of the clay here, but if that hadn't been so, i'm sure i still would have rated it an 8.
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