They just can’t be together, but they just can’t stay apart. The painful fate of a couple who fall for each other like the proverbial ton of bricks—but he’s married—sounds like a heartsore Nashville ballad, but this archetypal triangle is played out with a terse subtlety that depicts passion and anguish all the more acutely. Meeting by chance with no more introduction than overwhelming mutual attraction (and it’s easy to see why) Amsterdamers Jan and Laura fall into each others’ arms. The erotic and romantic chemistry is powerful. But Jan’s no clichéd cad; he loves his wife; he cuts the affair off short. If only it were that easy. All the volatile emotions, agonizing ambivalence, furtive excitement, longing, guilt, anger and all-round devastation of Jan and Laura’s predicament keep coming around to the same word—”good-bye.” Director Heddy Honigmann and actors Johanna Ter Steege (the beautiful “Immortal Beloved” of the recent Beethoven biopic) and Guy Van Sande make Jan and Laura rich, believable and sympathetic characters, with independent lives—the city of Amsterdam itself is an alluring setting—and a sexy joyfulness in their passion that counterbalances the torch-song agony.

—Alicia Springer San Francisco Filmfestival