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COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS

Netherlands, 1987 (MIFF 1988)

Director: Pieter Verhoeff

Scripted by director Verhoeff and Jean van de Velde from an ironic, satirical bestseller, this is a formally adventurous gamble that has paid off. Essentially a study of life in an apartment block in one of Amsterdam's more impoverished areas, the film observes the building's inhabitants with a kind of neutral empathy, an understanding distance. The edifice presents a sort of human honeycomb, a pyramid peopled by the gamut of social types. We see superb newcomer Mirjam Sternheim (discovered a la Lana Turner by the director in a street cafe) as a student sharing a living space with her brother. Amongst other residents in this fascinating microcosmic structure arc Marjkc Veugelers playing a blonde woman with brown skinned daughters and Gerard Thoolen who's a sleazoid hustler. Structurally, the story, like the building, is fragmented, compartmentalized, a plot-prism composed of various "chance" events and haphazard angles. The camerawork and cutting function as cool, unblinking reinforcements to this quasi-investigative tone Throughout, the viewer is confronted with an engaging combination of intimacy and aloofness. - P K

"Unusual in conception and telling, Count Your Blessings, remains always accessible and should appeal to audiences appreciative of new ways of filming, while being uninhihited enough to provoke lively criticism" - G, Waller, Variety

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