Joost van Ginkel’s debut feature “170 Hz” concerns two deaf youths from different backgrounds falling in love.
Evy (Gaite Jansen) and Nick (Michael Muller) are lovers, but the only thing they have in common, apart from their love for each other, is the fact that they’re both deaf who communicate through sign language. Apart from that, their worlds couldn’t be further apart.
While Evi’s middle class upbringing has come packaged with doting , if conservative, parents, Nick is from a less wealthy environment, and by all indications, has had a troubled childhood. Apart from being bullied by peers for his disability, Nick singularly also fails to impress Evi’s father when he’s invited home for dinner.
With a father demanding her to stay away from Nick, Evi hatches a plan to force her parents to accept Nick into the family – to elope together for a few months and return after becoming pregnant. A eager Nick accepts, and after picking a disused submarine for their hideout, stacks it with provisions for their long stay.
But Nick unexpectedly brings forward their day of elopement, and when Evi tries to ask for an explanation, he tactfully changes the topic. Their following days are spent in loving embraces and blissful abandonment. Fissures in their relationship first appear when Nick discovers and rewrites Evi’s typewritten diary with false details. When Evi learns about her pregnancy and suggests to Nick that it is time to return home, Nick dithers. Evi will discover that Nick has been hiding a dark secret from her all along…
For a debut feature, the film is technically well done; the visuals are pretty and the performances are not bad either. But having said that, I failed to notice anything unique about the story line or narrative, save the protagonists’ hearing impairment. Outcast lovers in film – yes we’ve seen them in various forms already, but while some have managed to touch the audience at some level, I couldn’t say the same about van Ginkel’s first attempt. The director nevertheless shows promise which I hope to see realised in his subsequent films. I have to confess that the only reason for picking this film has been the lovely and memorable Gaite Jansen.
The Nudity: Gaite Jansen
While there are few scenes with nudity from Gaite Jansen, they appear to be a bit over-polished, like watching a Cadbury’s Flake commercial. Perhaps it’s the jaded voyeur in me, or perhaps its the director-cinematographer combo honing their skills to make a killing in the advertising world – you decide. 🙂