Belgium, 2009, 102 minutes
Thu, Apr 29 / 1:45 / Kabuki / MYQU29K
Sun, May 02 / 4:15 / Kabuki / MYQU02K
Wed, May 05 / 9:15 / Kabuki / MYQU05K
Growing up in an Amsterdam commune circa 1974, ten-year-old Karo faces a number of moral choices and dilemmas. Her charismatic, idealistic father believes in living and loving as he pleases, in a place free of walls and void of restrictions, while her more sensitive mother would prefer monogamy and a private space to work on her dresses. When her father brings another woman into their space and his bed, the youngster witnesses the toll it takes on her parents’ relationship. Local authorities also complicate matters, claiming that the residents are squatting illegally. Despite these factors, Karo’s life contains remarkable joy and freedom, from a swing in the common room to her first crush living right alongside her. When a downstairs neighbor suggests swimming lessons, it gives some order to her days—and a potent rescue metaphor to the film. Director Dorothée van den Berghe grew up in a situation similar to her young heroine and clearly knows the territory. Refraining from judgment in matters sexual or political, she portrays the tensions and thrills of communal life and the difficulties that ensue when idealism runs up against the challenges of childrearing, the necessities of making a living and the realities of interpersonal relationships. Though Karo often is confused by the freedom she has and sees the problems it creates for her parents and the other commune members, van den Berghe adeptly and marvelously conveys the liberation that comes with making one’s own decisions.