Written & Directed by: #StijnVanGorkum
An unhealthy family relationship between a woman, her husband and her mother-in-law is about to get out of hand.
Family issues. One of the most relatable themes used in cinema today, forever and always. I’d say it’s cliche at this point, but I’m not so sure that will ever be the case. Life on Earth displays a crumbling, toxic bond between a woman and her husband, against the might of her mother-in-law. What begins as a seemingly tense dinner slowly burns into a fire that pays off the viewer with a suitably raw climax.
The meal they’re eating looks just as horrible as the relationship between the three characters. The mother is demanding, yelling for her astray, her wine, for the television be turned up — in just a few minutes, you as a viewer will feel just as annoyed as the woman and her husband. There’s a great level of intensity in the build-up to the final solidifying moment, with great attention to detail in the score and sound work. The inner rage slowly heating up and then coming to a soft burst through a sort of predictable but rewarding release.
Life on Earth has very little dialogue, so almost all the focus is placed on physical acting through facial and body cues, therefore very important that the cast be on their A-game; which is certainly the case here. The three characters are brought to life by three subtle but brilliant performers; Anna van Dijk, Dirk Gunther Mohr and Anita Hilkman deliver on the “family with issues” trope. Trope it may be, but many families are a lot like this one, so it was executed well in that sense. The camerawork capturing all these wonderful little moments of body language is thanks to cinematographer Marijn te Luggenhorst, whom works around the dining table quite well.
There’s a creaking bed of sound from the house, the way the floorboards and chairs squeak out with every movement, and the overlying tension in the air just adds to the fiery atmosphere. Stijn van Gorkum’s writing and direction is stripped back but sharp-focused — a real glaring sense of knowledge in visual storytelling over the use of words. Life on Earth doesn’t bring anything new to the theme of a dramatic fracturing family, but what it does present is quite enjoyable.