Tuesday, 5 August 2014

De Bende van Oss (The Gangs of Oss)

This Dutch crime thriller is based on actual events but the director Andre van Duran and the films producer Matthijs van Heijningen inform us that the film is not a history lesson and the protagonists in the film are composites of different people.

It’s set just before the start of the Second World War in the industrial city of Oss, which is in the southern province of the Netherlands. At this time the city was out of control, caught up in a crime wave, which involved all the civic dignitaries and officials, the Catholic Church and the local police force. These people were involved in sex crimes, prostitution, fraud and burglary. No one was immune from this regime of corruption. Military police were sent from the protestant north to put an end to this criminality, a decision that in fact escalated the bloodshed in the area because of the conflict between the different religions. 
The Gang of Oss.
At the centre of our story is Johanna van Heesch, played by the bewitching Sylvia Hoeks, who runs the local café/bar. She is the daughter of Mein de Snol (Juul Friday) and half sister to the mentally retarded Trees (Maria Kroakman). Her husband Ties (Schoenaerts) is an aggressive and violent man who on his release from prison sets out to change his former way of life, but before long he’s back pimping his wife, drinking heavily and resuming his employment with Wim de Kuiper (Marcel Musters) self declared leader of the local criminal gang. But Johanna, who is now pregnant, wants to protect her unborn infant from Ties violent outbursts and break away from her unsavoury life. The only fall proof way of doing this is to arrange for her husband to be killed, and to this end teams up with the only man who can read and write in the town, the well to do insurance broker and the gangs book keeper Harry den Brock (Frank Lammers). But before things can get any better her half sister is put in danger and the head of the MPs is shot down and killed. 
Johanna and Ties.
This award winning Dutch language movie is one of the best crime thriller’s I have seen for a long time. Its exciting, very well acted by a cast I can guarantee you will not recognise, but certainly will want to see more of, especially Sylvia Hoeks, an actress that is very well known in her home country due to her appearances on Dutch TV. The period detail is great and its Dutch settings are authentic.  For some strange reason this movie has not been released in the United Kingdom but can be purchased thru Amazon as an import. Unfortunately the extras on the two disk Blu-ray are not undertitled, but this will not spoil your enjoyment of this splendid film, which does include undertitles.

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