A scene from Among UsWhen a filmmaker maintains a distance from the narrative, it allows for interpretation by the audience. However, if he or she does not divulge enough of the story, it can be a more confusing experience than is enjoyable. This is the case with Marco van Geffen’s Among Us.

Ewa (Dagmara Bak) is a Polish nanny hired by a family in small town in Holland to care for their infant son, Stijn. The parents, Peter and Ilse (Guy Clemens and Rifka Lodeizen), are slightly put off by Ewa’s quietness, but are pleased to discover she’s befriended Aga (Natalia Rybicka), another Polish nanny in the neighbourhood. Meanwhile, the news is filled with accounts of a serial rapist stalking the city. When Ewa begins acting strangely, no one understands what could have affected this sudden change; but it eventually leads to her dismissal and a disturbing revelation.

The above likely sounds relatively straightforward, but the film does not reveal these events in a linear structure. Instead, it is told in three segments. First we view Ewa from the perspective of Peter and Ilse, as they comment on Ewa’s aforementioned behaviour, the close relationship she’s formed with their son, and the fact that she is becoming increasingly disobedient. The next section is from Aga’s point-of-view. It reveals a little more about Ewa, but still fails to shine a light on the source of her peculiar actions; though it does provide further clues. Then the events are finally shown from Ewa’s perspective and the combination of the three paints a slightly clearer picture of what influenced the sudden change in Ewa’s personality. But the viewer is forced to piece together the events like a puzzle without a picture as a reference, because the timelines are unclear and the events only occasionally overlap.

It’s a very ambitious film that displays an earnest effort for a debut feature. However, van Geffen admits he didn’t fully explore Ewa’s motivations in the movie because they were very complex and confusing for the character, and he wanted the audience to feel similarly. The result, instead, feels incomplete. It is meant to be a commentary on Dutch society, but that element may be lost on anyone unfamiliar with the changing state of the country.

Nonetheless, Bak is a wonderful actress from Warsaw, as is Rybicka. Bak is convincing as the mousy foreigner attempting to adapt to her new life, but is also very sensitive and conflicted by a secret. Moreover, the bond on screen between her and Stijn was genuine and formed off camera. Rybicka portrays Ewa’s opposite, bringing a livelier component to their scenes together.

The final moments of the film do eventually provide everything necessary to understand the key points of the narrative, but it still leaves many questions unanswered.

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