Desperate Measures – Rediscovering ‘De Kassière’ / ‘Lily Was Here’ (Netherlands 1989 – 112 mins)

Posted in Rediscover by - November 17, 2015
Desperate Measures – Rediscovering ‘De Kassière’ / ‘Lily Was Here’ (Netherlands 1989 – 112 mins)

Using a tried and tested formula, the 1989 adult Dutch drama ‘Lily Was Here’ is a pretty good rain-soaked tale of despair, featuring a strong performance by an unknown actress, as a pregnant teen who runs away from home and into a life of crime.

Bored with her mundane job and interfering family, Lily’s (Marion van Thijn) life takes a tragic turn when her American soldier boyfriend is murdered by a couple of punks. Pregnant with his child, Lily moves out of home and with no money to support herself and her imminent child, she turns to crime, first by shoplifting, then armed robbery. Caught on CCTV and with the police now looking for this pregnant criminal, Lily seeks help from Arend (Thom Hoffman), a kind but crooked cabbie. But, before long she is ultimately forced to make a life-changing decision, for both her and her newborn baby.

Although the plot to ‘Lily Was Here’ was hardly an original one, the fact that Lily’s character was pregnant did help make her more sympathetic to the audience. In her film debut, 21 year old unknown Marion van Thijn was very good as Lily, a sweet yet strong-willed loner forced into using desperate measures to ensure her baby has a decent start in life. This has been Marion’s only starring role to date, with only small parts in a handful of Dutch productions since. There is strong support here by established Dutch actor Thom Hoffman as Lily’s goodhearted friend Arend, while famed actress Monique van de Ven has a nice role as Lily’s supportive midwife.

Director Ben Verbong had earlier made the excellent twisty thriller ‘De schorpioen’ (’84) and the minor 1994 mystery ‘De Flat’ with Renée Soutendijk. There is a strong score by ‘Eurythmics’ musician Dave Stewart, and the cinematography was above average, featuring plenty of night-time scenes lit with blue backgrounds and rainy silhouettes. I was also struck by the number of seemingly symbolic shots of Lily looking into mirrors, a cinematic trait that’s been used in many genres over the years, especially horror, noirs and westerns. The exciting ending is tense and fairly unpredictable, as Lily goes to the hospital where she attempts to take her baby and walk free.

A good, straightforward drama which is well acted by all, ‘Lily Was Here’ remains pretty much unknown outside of the Netherlands, but is well worth seeking out as there is much to enjoy here, from the largely riveting plot, to the Rotterdam locations and the chart-topping theme track.

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