7.7/10
10,226
70 user 55 critic

Character (1997)

Karakter (original title)
Jacob Katadreuffe lives mute with his mother, has no contact with his father who only works against him and wants to become a lawyer, at all costs.

Director:

Mike van Diem

Writers:

Ferdinand Bordewijk (short story "Dreverhaven en Katadreuffe" and novel "Karakter") (as F. Bordewijk), Laurens Geels (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
Reviews
Won 1 Oscar. Another 17 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Jan Decleir ... Dreverhaven
Fedja van Huêt ... Katadreuffe
Betty Schuurman Betty Schuurman ... Joba
Tamar van den Dop Tamar van den Dop ... Lorna Te George
Victor Löw ... De Gankelaar
Hans Kesting Hans Kesting ... Jan Maan
Lou Landré ... Rentenstein
Bernard Droog Bernard Droog ... Stroomkoning
Frans Vorstman Frans Vorstman ... Inspecteur de Bree
Fred Goessens Fred Goessens ... Schuwagt
Jasper Gottlieb Jasper Gottlieb ... Jacob 6 jaar
Marius Gottlieb Marius Gottlieb ... Jacob 6 jaar
Pavlik Jansen op de Haar Pavlik Jansen op de Haar ... Jacob 12 jaar
Marisa Van Eyle Marisa Van Eyle ... Jiffrouw Sibculo
Wim Van Der Grijn Wim Van Der Grijn ... 2e Inspecteur
Learn more

More Like This 

Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A Dutch matron establishes and, for several generations, oversees a close-knit, matriarchal community where feminism and liberalism thrive.

Director: Marleen Gorris
Stars: Willeke van Ammelrooy, Jan Decleir, Veerle van Overloop
Kolya (1996)
Comedy | Drama | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A confirmed bachelor is in for the surprise of his life when a get-rich-quick scheme backfires - setting off a wild set of circumstances - and leaving him with a pint-sized new roommate.

Director: Jan Sverák
Stars: Zdenek Sverák, Andrey Khalimon, Libuse Safránková
The Assault (1986)
Drama | History | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A Dutch doctor, haunted by grueling childhood memories of World War II, struggles to find peace as he spends his life looking for answers about the tragic night that shaped him.

Director: Fons Rademakers
Stars: Derek de Lint, Marc van Uchelen, Monique van de Ven
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

The story of a poor Turkish family who try to emigrate illegally to Switzerland.

Director: Xavier Koller
Stars: Necmettin Çobanoglu, Nur Sürer, Emin Sivas
Twin Sisters (2002)
Drama | Romance | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

Twin Sisters is an epic love story based on the Dutch bestseller by Tessa de Loo that has been read by more than 3.5 million readers in Holland and Germany.

Director: Ben Sombogaart
Stars: Ellen Vogel, Gudrun Okras, Thekla Reuten
Alaska (1989)
Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A slaughterhouse worker appears to be romantically involved with his boss's wife. They plan to leave the country together, but at the airport she waits for him in vain. Slowly but surely ... See full summary »

Director: Mike van Diem
Stars: Willem Nijholt, Maeve van der Steen, Coen van Vrijberghe de Coningh
Biography | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

A German Jewish refugee family moves to and adjusts to a farm life in 1930s Kenya.

Director: Caroline Link
Stars: Juliane Köhler, Merab Ninidze, Matthias Habich
Character (1999)
Crime | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  

A ruthless court bailiff is found dead, and a young lawyer is the prime suspect. Told in a series of flashbacks, Jacob Katadreuffe tells the tale leading to the events of his final ... See full summary »

Stars: Janusz Chabior, Jan Decleir, Jack Hedley
Drama | Sport | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

During the Cold War, the World Chess Championship clashed complete opposites - personal and political.

Director: Richard Dembo
Stars: Michel Piccoli, Alexandre Arbatt, Liv Ullmann
Leak 2000 (2000)
Action | Crime | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Based on a book about an infamous real scandal in the Dutch crime scene, the film aims at exposing the horrors caused by corruption on both sides of the law. A rookie policeman is coerced ... See full summary »

Director: Jean van de Velde
Stars: Cas Jansen, Ricky Koole, Thomas Acda
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

Javi and his friend Carlos snoop around an old house on the way home from school. According to his brother Juan this is a haunted house and one can hear the voices of the dead. Later he is ... See full summary »

Director: Montxo Armendáriz
Stars: Carmelo Gómez, Charo López, Silvia Munt
Drama | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

Since the earliest days in her childhood Lara has had a difficult but important task. Both her parents are deaf-mute and Lara has to translate from sign-language to the spoken word and vice... See full summary »

Director: Caroline Link
Stars: Sylvie Testud, Tatjana Trieb, Howie Seago
Edit

Storyline

In the 20's, in Netherlands, Jacob Willem Katadreuffe has just concluded the law school and has an argument with the High Court Enforcement Officer Dreverhaven at his office. Katadreuffe leaves the place covered in blood. On the next morning, he is arrested by the police for the murder of Dreverhaven. He claims that he is innocent and discloses the story of his life to the Chief of Police. His mother Joba was the maid at Dreverhaven. One night, she is raped by him and a couple of weeks later she learns that she is pregnant. Dreverhaven proposes to marry her but Joba quits her job and leaves his house. Along the years, Katadreuffe is bullied at school and called bastard by his mates and his mother never talks to him. One day, he is involved by other kids in a theft of bread and arrested by the police. When he calls his biological father to help him, Dreverhaven tells the police that he does not know who Katadreuffe is. The boy is intelligent and learns English reading a superseded and ... Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Mystery

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Filming took place over the course of 71 days in the summer and fall of 1996. See more »

Goofs

In one of the street scenes, you can see an extra in modern outfit and with no headwear on. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Jacob Katadreuffe: I came to tell you. Today I have been sworn in as a lawyer. You must be sorry but I am sworn in and this is the last time I'll come here. Farewell for ever. You no longer exist for me.
Dreverhaven: Congratulations.
Jacob Katadreuffe: You congratulate me? I can't take your hand. The hand of someone who always opposed me.
Dreverhaven: Or helped.
[pause]
Dreverhaven: Or helped.
See more »

Connections

Featured in The 79th Annual Academy Awards (2007) See more »

User Reviews

 
A Very Subtle Character Study
6 October 2001 | by Tom MurraySee all my reviews

How is it possible for a boy, whose parents are devoid of normal humanity, to grow up to be loved and respected? The film, Character, presents a credible demonstration. It has the darkness of Ingmar Bergman or Charles Dickens, is slow-moving, thoroughly engrossing and it left me emotionally drained, which always elicits a high rating from me.

Dreverhaven is apparently an evil man: a bailiff who is quite willing to evict people in a terrible storm. He embodies two Nietzschean concepts: 1.

the will to power (he entered into power struggles with anyone whom he felt he could dominate) and 2. that a life becomes better by becoming stronger through adversity (he did everything in his power to bring adversity to his son, believing that that would strengthen him--and in many ways it did). His internal struggle between the will to power over his son and his desire to strengthen him is the prime mover of the film; his son's reactions to that are the core. Dreverhaven is also totally fearless; the question arises whether it is caused by bravery or just being tired of life.

The film opens with his son, Jacob Katadreuffe (Fedja van Huêt), coming home, all bloody, only to be arrested as a suspect in the murder of Dreverhaven. He then tells the two interrogators a most amazing story. Since he is describing his own life, one might suspect that he is embellishing the story in his own favour but I believe that he was totally candid.

The story is too complex to dwell on but certain aspects must be mentioned. Jacob's mother, Joba (Betty Schuurman), was a servant to Dreverhaven. On one and only one occasion he may have raped her: it is not made clear if she resisted. As soon as she discovered that she was pregnant, she left him and tried to sever all ties. For a long time, however, Dreverhaven repeatedly proposed marriage and was refused. His motivation is ambiguous (propriety or affection) and Joba was apparently determined not to allow Dreverhaven to beat her in a power struggle.

Because of his Mother's silence, young Jacob believed that she did not like him and, being a pariah because he was illegitimate, he turned to books for solace. Through this he developed a love of learning and a willingness to work hard and he advanced rapidly in a law firm, winning the respect and admiration of most of his colleagues, especially De Gankelaar (Victor Löw), who hired him. De Gankelaar, a man with a huge underbite and a heart to match, became Jacob's mentor, adviser and protector.

Denied access to his son, Dreverhaven began a game of terror against Jacob through legal channels.

The film is a study of character and characters. Their motivations are subtly hidden by consistent and superb acting. In my attempts to understand this dysfunctional family (if it can be called a family) I was forced to think. The slow movement allowed time for that. I want to see the film again, expecting that each viewing will bring a closer understanding. Even the evil Dreverhaven was more an object of pity rather than despicable; his actions were caused more by ignorance of human sensitivities, a dogmatic respect for the law and an unusual philosophy rather than by malice. The film is open-ended. What will Jacob do with the rest of his life?


38 of 42 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 70 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.
Edit

Details

Official Sites:

Sony Pictures Classics

Country:

Netherlands | Belgium

Language:

Dutch | English | German | French

Release Date:

27 March 1998 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Character See more »

Filming Locations:

Netherlands See more »

Edit

Box Office

Budget:

$4,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$37,268, 29 March 1998

Gross USA:

$623,983

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$623,983
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Contribute to This Page



Recently Viewed