Wij (We) is a dark and provocative film that chronicles a formative summer for a group of teens. Directed and co-written by Dutch filmmaker Rene Eller, the film is adapted from the novel by Elvis Peeters and based on true stories. Which true stories, I am not sure, but there was a Manson Family vibe as We‘s premise of teenage descent into sexual behavior, hedonism, and criminal activity all speak to identity and peer pressure at the hands of a perversely visioned leader.
As I asked myself, ‘Did I just see a dick getting sucked?’ the thought crossed my mind that this film might even give Vincent Gallo’s The Brown Bunny a run for its money. What’s more, the ringleader of the group named Thomas, played by Aimé Claeys in a scary good performance, seemed like he would grow up to be a Vincent Gallo character. Or Charles Manson. It is not horror, but these teens make horrifying choices during their summer of debauchery, growth, and death. Because of its erotic visuals and the age of the characters within the story, this film may be uncomfortable to some, but it is as cinematically beautiful as it is disturbing and is worth many watches to understand its layered chronology.
Living in a Belgium-Netherlands border town, eight friends — 4 girls and 4 guys — experience an unforgettable summer together after they find an abandoned RV. Adopting it as their sanctuary, the friends brainstorm ways to make money and enjoy themselves. Their summer of love and curious experimentation turns into wickedness and lost innocence as they begin to experiment with making pornography, prostitution, and blackmailing. Their escapades begin to catch up to them in the form of terrible consequences, but to escape them, the group decides to sink further into their depravity.
At the heart of We is a coming of age story that is one of the more unsettling ones I have seen — this film goes to dark and gut-wrenching places. The story unfolds in chapters, told through the memories of a shared summer by different characters. In this way, We feels like a modern-day Ingmar Bermann film, with smooth editing of movement, prominent female characters, psychological spiraling, told in memories, and its characters take an existential journey riddled with angst. All We is missing is a dream sequence, however, its idyllic Swedish summer setting feels like a dream — the brightness is jarring against the darkness of the film’s darkly tinged drama.
It’s all fun and games until somebody gets killed, and We is certainly a lesson on extreme behavior and its consequences. Or rather, it is for the audience, as the teens get away with their antics and only have their own moral judgments to contend with. This might be the only downfall of the film, as the depraved behavior like underage sex trafficking, sexual assault and consent, and murder are never dealt with head-on, but instead rather flippantly. Despite this, We feels heavily layered due to how the film reveals its plot in pieces. To follow this film down its darkly twisted rabbit hole, catch We on DVD/Blu-Ray February 18th and Digital April 14th when Artsploitation releases it to U.S. audiences.
8 out of 10 ☠️
|Runtime:||1hr 40 Mins.|