Written by: Michael Den Boer on April 7th, 2013
Theatrical Release Date: Netherlands / Spain, 2012
Director: Sacha Polak
Writers: Helena van der Meulen
Cast: Hannah Hoekstra, Hans Dagelet, Rifka Lodeizen, Mark Rietman, Eva Duijvestein, Barbara Sarafian, Ward Weemhoff, Ali Ben Horsting, Abdullah el Baoudi, Elske Rotteveel, Maarten Heijmans
DVD released: March 19th, 2013
Approximate running time: 83 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.20:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1 Dutch, Dolby Digital Stereo Dutch
DVD Release: Artsploitation Films
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: $24.99
Synopsis: A young woman tries to come to terms with her loneliness by leading a sexually promiscuous lifestyle.
When it comes sexuality of women in cinema things are not as fairly explored as they are when the focus is on their male counterparts. And though some of this slant is due to the majority of these film’s being told through the eyes of a male filmmaker. With the majority of film’s exploring a woman’s sexuality in such a way that said female characters come off in a negative light because of their sexual promiscuity.
Thankfully, every now and then comes along a film like Hemel, which goes against the grain in its depiction of a woman’s sexual evolution. At the core of this film’s is a young woman’s need to connect with her father by mirror his own sexual promiscuity. As the film’s progresses the dynamic of their relationship changes when he comes to the point where he is ready to settle down with and has no desire to jump around from one conquest to the next. This moment also proves to be this film’s moment of truth as Hemel is forced to come to terms with her jealously towards her father’s new found happiness. Will she continue on the path she has been traveling or will she find her own special someone, who completes’ her?
From a production stand point one would be hard pressed to find an area of this production that does not hold up well or in most instances excels. The visuals are first rate, the film’s soundtrack superbly set’s the mood by reinforcing the film’s atmospheric visuals and the way in which it handles its more sexually charged moments.
Without a doubt this film’s greatest asset is the mesmerizing performance of its leading lady Hannah Hoekstra in the role of Hemel, a name which appropriately translates into ‘Heaven’. After all, this film is about Hemel’s journey and It is Hannah Hoekstra’s utterly compelling performance that ultimately anchors this film.
Artsploitation Films presents Hemel in an anamorphic widescreen that retains the films intended aspect ratio. Colors and flesh tones look accurate, the image look clean and detailed throughout and there are no issues with compression.
This release comes with two audio options, a Dolby Digital mix in 5.1 and a Dolby Digital mix in Stereo. Though Dutch is this film’s primary language, other languages spoken in this film include Spanish, Arabic and English. The audio sounds clear and balanced throughout. Also included with this release are removable English subtitles.
Extras for this release include a trailer for the film (1 minute 49 seconds – anamorphic widescreen, in Dutch with English subtitles) and interviews with actress Hannah Hoekstra (6 minutes 2 seconds – anamorphic widescreen, in Dutch with English subtitles) and director Sacha Polak (5 minutes 44 seconds – anamorphic widescreen, in Dutch with English subtitles). Both interviews cover similar ground, but from two different perspectives. Each participant discuss the film’s plot and it’s characters. Also included with this release is a reversible cover art and a twelve page booklet with a essay about the film and text interviews with Hannah Hoekstra and Sacha Polak. Rounding out the extras are trailers for Clip, Combat Girls and Vanishing Waves. Overall Hemel gets a first rate release from Artsploitation Films.