Schlingel: Jackie and Oopjen
9 October 2020
When, back in 2016, the Louvre and the Rijksmuseum announced the joint acquisition of Rembrandt's double wedding portraits of Marten Soolmans and Oopjen Coppit, little did they know they would be setting in motion a hilarious slapstick comedy about sisterly love, skulduggery in the art world and a 400-year old newly-wed with a penchant for modern Dutch beer.
In Annemarie van de Mond's Jackie and Oopjen, the famous subject of the 17th century painting hanging steps out of the frame in search of her long lost sister. In the process she finds a BFF in the form of 12-year old girl Jackie, the daughter of kind but stressed out Mouna, played by Karina Smulders, a woman who has to deal with the empty painting, her head-in-the-sand boss and fellow stakeholders at the Louvre in Paris, as well as the vituperative press corps. To cap it all, a low-grade mother/son combo sees the opportunity to cash in on events, and plan to kidnap and ransom the painted heroine.
Central to events is the touching relationship between the eponymous characters. Oopjen isn't the austere woman of the painting, rather a warm but lonely soul in need of friendship and comfort, yet one who quickly adapts to 21st Century modes of communication, as in her brilliantly authentic show-me-the-hand ‘duh'. She burps and she dances hip hop, and like Paddington Bear, another lost soul, she hilariously comes to terms with modern life through her discovery of modern conveniences, such as toilet flushes, hairdryers and an electric toothbrush (and flip-top beer cans).
"She is an incredible comic talent," says director Van de Mond of actress Sarah Bannier, who also featured as a small girl in Miss Minoes (2001), the mother of great Dutch family comedies. "She became the Oopjen that she was only because she was the actress that she is. She was so good at slapstick, and at the same time is also very serious and emotional." The director adds how Oopjen could have been regal, serious or romantic, or "even posh," but Bannier's audition was so hilarious that the comic template was set there and then. "What she brings to the movie is a lust for life."
Jackie and Oopjen is produced by Column Film (NL) and Fiction Valley (NL) and the story was the brainchild of screenwriter Myranda Jongeling who, like many people on encountering the lifesize paintings in Rijksmuseum, was obsessed by the eyes of Oopjen that seemed to follow her around the room. The subsequent film, supported by the Netherlands Film Fund and the Netherlands Production Incentive, started life as a TV movie, "but then the broadcast company (AVRO/TROS) thought it was such a nice story they were sure that it would work as a film, so we redeveloped it for cinema," says Van de Mond. She and Jongeling also met up with documentary director Oeke Hoogendijk whose IDFA 2019 film My Rembrandt features the acquisition of the original works.
While much of the film is shot inside the Rijksmuseum, the Netherlands' most august art institution, the production had to recreate the salon where the painting of Oopjen is hung, with reproductions installed. Van de Mond further points out how the museum is very accommodating to filmmakers and that film crews are a common sight within its walls. "This movie will work to send thousands of children to the Rijksmuseum, so they are very co-operative and very nice to work with," she comments.
And what about a sequel? Is Marten, the subject of the other painting, likely to step out of his frame into the 21st Century? Van de Mond loves the idea but right now she has another idea. "We are thinking of sending Jackie back to the 16th Century - to meet Rembrandt!"
Fore more information:
Jackie and Oopjen
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Festivals: Renate Zylla