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An Awakering Love or ‘Just Friends’?

by our Editors in Media & entertainment , 13 februari 2018

Dit artikel is ook in het Nederlands beschikbaar

Joris just can’t get away from his parental home, while Yad reluctantly returns to it. These twenty-somethings from Almere seem to be made for each other. Before surrendering to love, however, they first have to make amends and sort things out with their mothers.

In the opening scene of the TV movie “Gewoon vrienden” (Just Friends) we see a young man in his twenties racing Almere’s countryside on a motorbike. Passing surprisingly stunning architectural highlights, he swerves to the waterside, passing windmills. Once there, he takes out his drone to explore the lake. He gets a call. His mother, Simone, had decided to discontinue her husband’s urn grave spot. Once the urn is picked up, however, she does not want it in her luxuriously decorated house. Joris begs her to give his father a place, but to no avail.

So now he is stuck with this urn. His father Gerlof died when Joris was eleven years old. It still bothers him. He makes sure to build up his body at the gym, but he keeps his feelings to himself, trapped in those pounding muscles or behind the visor of his motorcycle helmet. Joris has a distorted relationship with his mother Simone. She wallows in alcohol induced self-pity and obsessively remodels herself through plastic surgery. Like mother like son: they both know how to work on their looks.

Meanwhile, Yad returns to his parents in Almere to break free from the Amsterdam nightlife he put more energy in than into his studies. Being a drop-out, he now has to reinvent himself. He comes from an intellectual Syrian family, and his mother expects him to continue his studies. Yad, on the other hand, is not too sure about that and flees to his old familiar surf school in the hope to resume teaching there. Unfortunately, there are no new instructors needed, but he can still surf the lake. There, Joris sees him for the first time, with his drone. But they do not realize this yet.

Yad needs a job and finds one as the care helper of granny Ans (played by Dutch actress and singer Jenny Arean). Then, her grandson Joris visits. Sparks fly, but Joris can’t deal with Yad’s provocative behavior. The music from Joris’ headset inevitably brings the guys closer together. It is the start of a brooding summer romance. But just as Joris dares to go all the way, Yad withdraws. His highly educated mother Maryam is dead set against “white trash” and would undoubtedly categorize Joris as such. He suggests to “just stay friends.” Joris’ mother Simone is not supportive either, as she’s also not keen on her son’s love interest: a boy with roots far across the border, that surely spells trouble.

Both guys must first get a grip on their lives and have it out with their mothers. With the approval of both mothers, only then they can try again.

“Gewoon vrienden” is a TV film by Ellen Smit (director) and Henk Burger (script). Joris is played by Josha Stradowksi (1995), who started his acting career in 2006. He performed in several musicals, including “The Sound of Music.” In the 2017/2018 theatre season he performs with Toneelgroep Amsterdam and with Toneelgroep Oostpool in “Gender and Bromance.” Majd Mardo (1989, Aleppo) plays Yad. In 2013, Mardo graduated from the Maastricht Academy of Dramatic Arts and he has performed in several film and TV productions. In 2017, he played the lead in “Jungle,” for which he won the Dutch TV award Gouden Kalf for best actor in a TV drama.

“Gewoon vrienden” is a production of CTM Films in collaboration with public broadcaster BNNVARA and will première on Dutch television on March 7.



In the New Issue of Gay News, 330, februari 2019

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