26 January 2012 | vincent_drachten
Cornelis, half of his life portrayed.
Being a Dutchman with a great interest in Sweden, plus a fan of Cornelis Vreeswijk, I was really looking forward to this motion picture. Many of Cornelis' songs helped me to gradually learn the Swedish language. First off, I have to compliment the casting bureau that managed to find Hans-Erik Dyvik Husby. A Norwegian singer from a genre rather remote from the one Cornelis sang in. Yet he puts on a magnificent performance.
The film follows the career steps of Vreeswijk in Sweden, from his breakthrough in 1964 alongside Fred Åkerström until his death in 1987. During the course of it, many of Cornelis' great songs can be heard. A sing-along for any fan. It also shows the two sides that Cornelis had in him. A great performer, fun guy to hang around with, a ladies man. But also a heavy drinker, an overly jealous husband and not the best of fathers to his son Jack. It presents you with a very honest picture of this troubadour that lived like a rock star. This pleads for the director and the script-writer.
The only weakness of this film is that it focuses solely on Sweden. Vreeswijks Dutch heritage is almost completely neglected. The only way any viewer unfamiliar with him would guess he's Dutch is from his last name and the first 5 minutes of the film. The director does ironically point out the fact that the Swedish state never officially recognized Vreeswijk as a Swedish citizen, and therefore never even became a Swede. In fact Cornelis had a decent career here in The Netherlands as well, where quite a few people still know his Dutch repertoire. He also regularly traveled abroad to perform in The Netherlands. Obviously this part of his life poses a practical issue, with a Norwegian actor portraying him. Yet Amir Chamdin could have made at least a couple of references to the Netherlands. He chooses not to; perhaps for financial or practical reasons. Sadly it's this loose end that makes this an incomplete, yet nice film about the life of Cornelis Vreeswijk.