The Columnist

NL FILM & TV (2020)

 

Director: Ivo van Aart

 

Starring: Katja Herbers, Bram van der Kelen, Claire Porro, Genio de Groot

Fantasia Festival 2020 Selection

Social media. The best of places and the worst of places. Seemingly the only place in the universe where you can be vile to another person and pretty much get away with it. A place where the keyboard warriors unite to spit bile and vitriol at people who have a differing opinion to their own. However, social media is possibly the most powerful tool in the world now and, let’s face it, it’s pretty cool when it’s a positive place to be. In The Columnist, Ivo van Aart takes the worst trend in social media – trolling – and bases an entire movie around it, one dripping in black comedy and a great sense of self-awareness.

Femke Boot (Herbers) is a journalist and aspiring novelist who has come under fire from internet trolls for opinions within her columns. Twitter and Facebook are ablaze with cruel and evil comments about her and obviously it’s bringing her down. Her independent, free-willed daughter Anna (Porro) tells her to ignore the trolls and her novelist boyfriend Steven Dood (van der Kelen) also has a similar outlook. But Femke has other ideas and decides to take bloody revenge against those who would besmirch her anonymously online. The Columnist is a wickedly fun horror-comedy that makes no excuses for what it is – a satirical look at the world of internet trolls and one woman’s desire to brutally fight back. Katja Herbers is wonderful as the vengeful Femke who slowly starts to lose touch with those around her the deeper into her murder spree she falls and she’s clearly having a ball. Her relationships with Anna and Steven provide the emotional pulse of the movie and her bloody adventures provide the comedy and, honestly, satisfaction. Femke’s murders are inventive and surprisingly enjoyable to watch as her barely restrained contempt and fury boils over with each attack - the finale is wonderfully tense and compelling and van Aart leaves us with a great final shot that encapsulates the entirety of the movie. Throughout, the dialogue is sharp and incisively written with the black comedy shining through excellently and when you combine those elements with the entertaining and clever murder scenes/montages, you get a biting and enjoyable end product.

 

When a movie is as entertaining as The Columnist, you allow for that suspension of belief and, really, given the tone of the movie, it goes without saying. Thrilling, sharp and well-acted whilst also delivering a swiping acknowledgement and jab at the real issues that social media brings, The Columnist really is a fun romp.

August 14th 2020

© 2016 Matt Hudson / What I Watched Tonight / Essex

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