Quality Time (Daan Bakker, 2017, Netherlands)

  Quality Time, the feature debut of writer-director Daan Bakker, is an exploration of contemporary male malaise with an absurdist tinge, in the vein of the films of Roy Andersson. While the film is often experimental and abstract, there is a clear thematic strain running through it - a sense of masculine alienation. The film is divided into five sections, which vary greatly in terms of their approach to the subject matter.

The first segment, which focuses on a man named Koen, is comprised entirely of characters represented by circles of color on a screen. The circles vibrate when their character is speaking. The dialogue itself seems to be coming through a filter which renders it robotic and lifeless. The story involves a family gathering, and it sets the tone for the film’s absurdity going forward. 

The second section is one of the film’s more challenging, and involves a young man who moves back into his parents’ home and takes up a photography habit. This segment is largely shot from aerial views, and dialogue takes the form of text on the screen. 

The third segment is probably the best and funniest in the film. It involves a story about a man with social anxiety who travels back in time to confront a teacher who spanked him. Things do not go as planned, and the story ends tragicomically. Section four is also incredible. Set to hypnotic organ music, it tells a story of an alien abduction with Eraserhead-like visuals.

The last section, about another man named Jef, is interesting but somewhat underwhelming. It climaxes with an extended scene of Jef playing guitar before a gathering. Overall, Quality Time is a mixed bag, but it is always somewhat interesting and does not overextend its welcome. Fans of absurdist humor and Samuel Beckett will likely appreciate the film.



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