As time moves on the lines between visual media will continue to inevitably blur. Surely, each discipline needs to maintain its fine line for there to be a reason to continue separation of them. However, I raise the point because ever since the made-for-TV movie was created due to a perceived need by American networks, there has been a growing similitude growing between the two forms such that when one watches a TV film without commercial break there is scarcely a notable difference depending on the production, and what attempts were made to give it a filmic quality.
While the TV movie may have originated here it has, by now, migrated the world over. Which brings me, after that roundabout introduction, to the film at hand 20 Lies, 4 Parents, and a Little Egg. This is a dramedy that premiered on Dutch television last year. It tells the tale of how, after a freak accident, Dylan (Nils Verkooijen) gets to know his biological father, Sjors (Marcel Musters), after having been raised for most of his 15 year by his mother (Anneke Blok) and partner Ilse (Marieke Heebink). Dylan’s re-emergence into Sjors’ life disrupts his relationship with Bert (Mark Ram) and also threatens the secrets that each of them have harbored over the years – hence the title.
With a synopsis as I encapsulated above it would be easy for a film such as this to wander into melodrama. It manages to avoid doing that not only by staying quite humorous, based on the way all the characters interact with one another, but also being dramatically real. The film is ultimately driven by the character and how they react to one another. Dylan is a rather realistically rendered pest who has an “impossible” facade that is slowly taken down, which is a credit to the writing and the performance by Verkooijen. Yet even with that the film never loses its core conflict for facile resolution.
In the end the decisions are made quietly, mostly visually that sins of omission made to keep up appearances need to be addressed and moved past, and ends the story in satisfying fashion.
With all this talk of character clearly this puts and emphasis on performance and the quintet of central figures in this film all do a marvelous job. There is a naturalness and ease of interaction between all the characters that creates a shorthand that allows the film to move as briskly as it does. This keeps the pace up and the tale moving without getting bogged down in unnecessary bouts of exposition and the like.
20 Lies, 4 Parents and One Little Egg doesn’t tread easy ground. When you’re dealing with a family-based comedy-drama that concerns two sets of same-sex couples the dangers become either insensitivity or faux-edginess. What this film opts for instead is heart and humanity and a brief toe-dip into the complexity of human emotions, and that’s the right path and it’s well-navigated here.