The story of a woman's love for two young men. Antwerp, Belgium, 1940. Lieve (Marie-Christine Barrault) marries Adriaan (Rutger Hauer), a Flemish idealist, who is drawn towards Germany by ... See full summary »
A Woman Between Wolf and Dog (or Een Vrouw Tussen Hond en Wolf as it is known in The Netherlands and Flanders) is a very brave film. It focuses on the thin line between resistance and collaboration in the Second World War. Protagonist is Lieve, a woman married with Adriaan who serves in the SS on the eastern front. The people in Antwerp ignore because of this and she leads a lonesome life until Francois, member of the resistance, takes shelter in her house. After a couple of days they start a relationship with saves Lieve from punishment after the German defeat. But then it turns out that Adrian returns safe and sound (physically at least) from the battlefield. He is imprisoned but Lieve still chooses to save her marriage to the astonishment of Francois. It appears that Adriaan has no regret of his choices and living with him becomes harder and harder for Lieve and their son.
Because choices in a situation of war are so difficult we also see a lot of hypocrisy. People of Antwerp who played no role in the resistance but show a lot of bravery after the Germans are gone. People in the countryside who live a life of plenitude while people in the city are hungry.
It is always difficult to prevent a story that takes fifteen years to become fragmentary. This movie doesn't succeed in avoiding this. We see a lot of very short scenes that try to tell a coherent story. Sometimes I was confused by the choices made by the director. You need to have some knowledge about the history of the Second World War in Belgium to understand why Adriaan choose to fight with the Germans at the east front while he is a Flemish nationalist. On the other hand there is a scene inside a cinema that seems to be inserted to give the viewer more specific understanding of history.
The acting is slightly disappointing. It is strange when you have a great actor like Rutger Hauer on the set to leave him out of the script for about an hour. It is also unbelievable that a flamboyant guy like Francois falls in love with a woman like Lieve who is very withdrawn and seems to carry the weight of life on her shoulders. What doesn't help is the lack of chemistry between these characters. Because the film is so fragmentary you are not drawn into the story and the characters. In the mass scenes you see clearly that the budget of the movie was limited. It almost seems that beside some extras the streets of Antwerp are abandoned. I think the film could have benefit from a shorter time span (say the moment that Antwerp is freed from the Germans) with some flash backs to tell the background of Lieve, Adriaan and Francois. It would involve the viewer more and the main characters would have been more present.