Director: Bavo Defurne
Writers: Bavo Defurne and Yves Verbreaken
Stars: Jelle Florizoone, Mathias Vergels, Nina Marie Kortekass, and Eva van der Gucht
North Sea, Texas is a coming of age tale. Pim (Jelle Florizoone) is a quiet dreamer who is neglected by his mother, Yvette (Eva van der Gucht). Yvette is a former beauty queen many years & pounds past her prime. She works at the Texas bar, dates her current boyfriend only for access to his car, loves playing the accordion in competitions, and is completely self absorbed. Pim finds some comfort at the house of Yvette’s co-working Marcella. There he is treated as one of her own children; a few years older Gino who loves motorcycles, and Sabrina who pines for Pim.
Pim’s lustful friendship to Gino turns to love after both become closer, and Gino provides Pim his first sexual encounter. Gino cautions Pim to secrecy, and they continue their relationship. But as the summer continues, Gino leaves Pim once he begins another relationship with a French girl.
As time passes Pim waits for Gino to no avail. Eventually his mother’s emotional abandonment is completed with actual abandonment. He moves into Marcella’s home, but all is not as it use to be. Gino has moved out, Sabrina is cool to Pim’s presence after discovering his secret, and Marcella’s health is failing.
North Sea, Texas is set in a small poor seaside town in Belgium. The windswept isolated landscape ties into the deliberately slow and well executed pacing of the film. Pim’s peculiarities are carefully shown, and his relationship with Gino genuinely realized. The script is not dialogue heavy, but the film visually conveys the little details that reveal so much about the characters: Yvette wearing a too tight yellow colored dress similar to the one she wore when she won a beauty pageant; Marcella emptying discarded sugar packets from the restaurant into a large container at her home; Pim switching his & Gino’s pocket knives after their first time camping on the dunes.
The young actors at the heart of the film give natural and believable performances. Jelle Florizoone is able to carry the film and make you emotionally connect with Pim. You can’t help but feel for him and his situation. Though you initially feel horrible for Pim after his abandonment, Jelle is able to convey the sense that Pim will be all right in the end. Nina Marie Kortekass is excellent as the besmirched Sabrina. She is attentive to Pim at first, but jealous after she discovers his secret. Mathias Vergels is the weakest as Gino. The performance is capable, but does not engage the audience as both Florizoone and Kortekass do. As for Eva van der Gucht, she too is excellent as Yvette. In a role that could have easily been one-dimensional, she brings the character to life with color and understanding; an understanding of someone who needs to be free and not chained to any one place or one person.
The film is beautifully shot. While the story is melancholy, it does end with a sense of hope. You will be touched by characters that are trying to find themselves and where they belong.
Grade = A-