what is love? In a new series, several Dutch filmmakers answer this simple yet complex question in their own way. The six separate episodes present a diverse picture as there is plenty of room for less conventional forms of love and pain points within a relationship. One is about a couple in an open relationship, and the other is about whether or not they want to have kids. Love Talk Amsterdam is part of an American series that is itself based on the popular article column New York times Where true stories of love and relationships are written.
The Dutch version is led by Robert Alberingk Thiem, who had previously given the city of Amsterdam a lead role in the series Adam – Eva. This series, which can be seen on Amazon’s Prime video streaming service, also makes room for things that can change or stress a relationship. For example, the episode “Keep Me Vast” is about a couple whose husband becomes disabled. Can he and his wife handle this? The characters of Simon and Katya are played by Romain Kunen and Rivka Lodizen, respectively. Their condition feels real, in part because the same thing happened to Kunen as his character: he became half-crippled after suffering a stroke in 2015. “I didn’t think it was possible for a long time to do a real role again,” Kunen says at an Amsterdam hotel. “. Together with Lodeizen he speaks to Norwegian Refugee Council about creation.
Work with restrictions
Doubts about his ability to handle it quickly disappeared after an improvisation session with Lodezen and director Baudouin Cole. However, the production had to take adequate account of its limitations. “He can still play fantastically,” says Lodeizen. “But we had to make room for that. He had to get some rest every now and then, for example.” Kunin: “Gradually, the boundaries were really shifted, because increasingly I felt like it was actually a piece of cake for me as an actor.”
The story in the series is not his own, but it contains personal elements. The same goes for accepting or not accepting the new situation. Kunen admits that his character is faster than him at this. “He thinks faster than I do in my daily life.” Ludizen: “Do you find it more difficult in real life?” Cone: “Yes. Every day you encounter things that you used to be able to solve very easily. Now you can’t fix that. You need help.”
In the episode, the couple talk about intimacy. For example, Simon tells his wife that he understands if she wants to find someone who can better satisfy her sexual needs. “When it comes to love, you shouldn’t be ashamed of the pain,” Lodizen says. “Many of the stories are about where they rub in when it comes to intimacy. In the end, it’s not about this disability at all, it’s about how you struggle through love together.”
Both actors hope the episode will raise awareness: People with disabilities aren’t seen very often in movies and on television, they say. Ludizen: “They simply don’t see themselves as actors. That’s a bad thing. We leave something behind if we don’t do anything with it.” Kunin himself learned about this only after it was laid. “It’s still the case that the casting agencies almost didn’t want to work with me because they didn’t see if I could handle it at all. I think it will change after this series is released. I hope people think: Damn, he’s been doing this for a while.”
The episode overlaps actresses Hannah van Fleet and Elk of Badenburg also with real life. The two play a married couple in the episode, something they’ve been in real life for eight years. “We were also asked to come as a duo at the audition,” says Van Fleet during a chat at an Amsterdam restaurant and café. “It felt a little weird, but it’s also nice. Don’t get the kind of discomfort you might feel in such a test.”
The episode touches on whether or not you have maternal feelings, something that has a different dimension for a gay couple than for a straight couple. However, the series doesn’t make for much of a strange relationship. “It’s not about the fact that they’re lesbians,” says Badenburg, who joins Van Fleet to talk about the episode. “That aspect of their relationship isn’t problematic. It’s just like that.” Van Fleet adds, “That’s also a real implication. You can be very specific about certain things, but not everything revolves around who they are.” By Maud Wimeager (Ann +) The scripted episode also has an element of magic realism: Paddenburg plays a writer who goes to live and work for a while in the former home of a famous writer. It looks like she traveled back to the 50’s at one point. From that moment on, the line between fantasy and reality blurred. Badenburg: “It was interesting to find a balance here. We don’t often do something like that in the Netherlands, also because it’s often tight on budget. We do it in a fairly straightforward way. It’s best not to question that fictional class. It is a kind of feverish dream in which she finds herself, an outward manifestation of an inner struggle.”
The two actresses are part of something bigger: an American spin-off series from tech giant Amazon. On December 16th Love Talk Amsterdam Launched all over the world (Amazon is talking about more than 240 countries and regions). Van Fleet is the lead actress and co-creator of the Ann + Ever experience something like this. Ann + It started as a web series on NPO, It managed to hook up a large group of viewers and was shown all over the world via Netflix. “With the big US streaming service, you notice there are many more layers, more than we are used to here in the Netherlands,” she says. It brings new opportunities but also challenges. What size should something be? The older you get, the harder it is sometimes to stand up for your choices.”
In addition to Amazon and Netflix, streaming services such as Disney+ and HBO Max also work on Dutch productions. Foreign companies competing with Dutch players such as NPO and RTL (Videoland). “On the one hand, there seems to be more opportunity than ever before,” Van Fleet continues. But there is also debate about what foreign viewers are doing in the Dutch market. Do they just hire a crew and a cast or are they really invested in the industry? ”
At least the heroes are happy with this project for Amazon. Paddenburg sometimes felt like Alice in Wonderland while shooting at the Old Writers’ House. “Isn’t this a childhood dream come true? You just end up in a completely different world.”
Love Talk Amsterdam It can be seen on Prime Video from Friday, December 16th.
A version of this article also appeared in the December 14, 2022 newspaper