Review: Lost on Arrival (2020)

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© PolakVanBekkum

We think they are invincible when we are kids. Strong, eternal, capable of solving any problem that comes along. Parents are supposed to chase the danger away, to stand by us and live forever, and when they turn old and vulnerable, that realization first hits us a shock-wave before we simply know that we have to discover our own super powers to reverse the roles and give them as much protection as we can.

In 2020, this task came with extra challenges which Lost On Arrival, a short drama directed by PolaVanBekkum doesn’t take as a backdrop of the narrative. The video calls between Ivar van Bekkum and his father Jan could have happened outside of the Covid-19 imposed restrictions for some simple reason like, the geographical distance, which actually also happens to be the case here.

There is nothing we can do about ageing, and if we are lucky, we get old at one point, but if there is a proof that life is unjust, it takes only a couple of minutes to extract it from the beginning of the conversation between father and son.

Jan’s dream was to return to Curacao upon retirement, a place that stole his heart long time ago, where he as a much younger man had lived and worked. All his life packed in boxes, and with a plane ticket in his pocket, he can’t whether remember that he was supposed to move to Curacao, nor that he owns a house there. Dementia had taken its toll.

Jan is also unaware that his Holland-based apartment doesn’t belong to him anymore, because he had sold it to his downstairs neighbor. Now, he is just a tenant until the end of the month.

The directing duo PolakVanBekkum (Esther Polak and Ivar van Bekkum) whose collaboration goes back as far as 25 years, doesn’t expand on those situations and possibilities. The focus is put solely on conversations, leaving all questions as to what happens next unanswered. Multiple calls are edited into one dialogue, with static video view form a veranda which may or may not belong to father’s Curacao house. A dramatic sunset sky drops like a curtain over a calm city, with a loud orchestra of birds singing their little hymn to it.

Before coming to Berlinale, Lost on Arrival had its world premiere at IDFA.

Country: Netherlands
Language: Dutch
Year: 2020
Runtime: 8′
Directed/ Written by: PolakVanBekkum
Cinematography: PolakVanBekkum
Sound: Arno Peeters
Supported by: Mondriaan Foundation, Stokroos Foundation
Worldwide distribution by: LIMA
Distribution and promotion by: EYE Experimental