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HOW TO SURVIVE A BROKEN HEART

Netherlands, 1991 (MIFF 1991)

Director: Paul Ruven

This low-budget film, with English and Dutch dialogue, concerns a group of lovesick losers in a very unglamorous Amsterdam. Their 'hardboiled but tragicomic adventures' lend the film its raffish sense of humour and attractive characters, all neatly etched by director Paul Ruven.

The underworld of Ruven's movie is one of gritty, on-the-edge survival. No welfare, no savings, no-one to fall back on. Temporary jobs, clever tricks, small hustles, anything to get by. And - not that they'd admit it - they're all looking for love.

The hero is D.C., who hasn't recovered from the fact that his girl has left him. He participates in 'chicken races', in which cars are driven fast on the wrong side of the road; some of the so-called races are rigged, Others characters include D.C.'s friend, Clay; Gina, a pregnant taxi driver whose lover, Frank, wants no more to do with her, and Giro, a Russian who lives in his car.

The plot is amusingly divided into chapter headings based on an entirely new set of Ten Commandments, most of them obscene. One of the cleaner instructions reads "Thou shalt not desperately lose thyself in pretending to be a hero of a new love affair".

Jan Wich's black and white lensing is sharp, and the film is amusing and off-beat, featuring amongst its cast Alejandro Agresti, the ex-patriot Argentinian director of last year's Festival attraction Secret Wedding.

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