Teenage Sexuality Run Amok

During one long European summer, bored teenagers descend into lust-fueled debauchery which eventually turns violent and deadly. Filmmaker Rene Eller’s Dutch-Belgian controversial teen thriller We (Wij: A Summer Odyssey in Dutch) is based off the book by Elvis Peeters. Quickly moving from normal teenage tomfoolery into pornography and prostitution, it’s an explicit coming-of-age tale that would fit quite easily into Larry Clark’s filmography.

Teenage lust and depravity is on full display in We, unchecked by any moral compass. A group of fairly normal suburban teenagers, four boys and four girls, decide they need some fun in their summer vacation. Led by a violent psychopath in Thomas (Aimé Claeys), what begins as simple teenage mayhem for the group turns into increasingly hedonistic behavior for the bored teens.

Starting with harmless pranks, they quickly spiral into more and more dangerous criminal acts. It’s only a matter of time before their innocence is gone with deadly results. Needing money, the group hits upon the idea of shooting adult videos over the internet. Soon that escalates into prostitution for the girls and an elaborate blackmail scheme that ensnares prominent local figures in their quaint town.

…The cast is remarkable, painting a lucid but dark portrait of wayward teenagers

Broken up into four parts, each segment focusing on a different teen testifying in court, their disturbing summer is recounted from each character’s perspective. There’s Femke (Salom√© van Grunsven), the pretty ‘It’ girl of the group and the most innocent. Falling into line with the others, tragedy awaits.

An amoral but fascinating tale of teen corruption, We points a finger at their absentee parents and neglectful adults in town. Shocking and unsettling, there’s a ring of truth that works its way through the narrative. The cast is remarkable, painting a lucid but dark portrait of wayward teenagers becoming inhumane predators.

A convincingly truthful scenario of normal teenagers gone bad, We is nearly pitch-perfect up until its final act. The gritty realism and fine character development take a backseat in the final act as Eller attempts to neatly tie a bow over his movie, pulling out an ending that could only happen in the movies.

Rene Eller’s willingness to push the boundaries of teen sexuality and nudity on screen might seem like pornography but ends up justified in the darkest recesses of We’s disturbing tale.

Video

We (Wij: A Summer Odyssey) arrives in a rare 2.66:1 presentation. The best news here is that the complete uncut director’s edition is used, running almost 100 minutes.

The Dutch-Belgian indie production is lighted by a warm amber glow, reflecting the summer setting. Bearing a film-like patina, its softer than most new movies and has some optical distortions built into the panoramic cinematography. Average definition and okay detail look fine in the sun-lit exteriors, but often produce muddier video for interior scenes. It has a serviceable contrast, occasionally hampered by middling black levels.

The 1080P video is encoded in stout AVC, transparently rendering the film’s quirky cinematography without artifacts. We’s picture quality deserves Blu-ray but lacks the extreme definition and razor-sharp detail we usually take for granted on newer releases. There’s nothing obviously wrong with the film’s transfer, taken from a digital intermediate. There are no signs of defective video processing or bad ringing.

Audio

Artsploitation has been hit-or-miss including lossless audio. Included on this BD is the original Dutch soundtrack in 5.1 Dolby Digital and 2.0 Dolby Digital. A soundtrack featuring songs from such acts as Bon Iver and Nick Drake, it’s music made for English-speaking audiences. The music is mixed very loudly and with plenty of bass, possibly too much bass.

Dialogue occasionally gets lost in the wide dynamic range of the soundtrack and relatively small soundstage. The indie production has a limited surround mix, largely used for minor rear support and ambience.

Optional English and English SDH subtitles play in a yellow font, always inside the 2.66:1 widescreen frame.

Extras

Artsploitation Films includes the movie’s trailer. Hardcore fans of We may want to investigate the Region B release from Germany with lossless Dutch audio and more extensive special features. Reversible cover art is included.

The nicest thing about this edition is that it’s completely uncut, the original director’s version.

We Trailer (02:09 in HD)

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

We
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  • Audio
  • Extras
4

Movie

A fascinating and complex portrayal of teenagers gone wild, falling into moral depravity that ends badly for everyone.

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User Review
5 (1 vote)

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