Cyrus Frisch’s “Dazzle” – 2009 Tribeca Film Festival Review

Movies show, not tell. However, Dutch director Cyrus Frisch tries to flip this basic tenant of cinema with “Dazzle,” a film composed entirely of a phone conversation. Sounds unbearable? It is, but mostly due to the film’s lack of focus.

The minimal plot involves a young woman (Georgina Verbaan)—who has shut herself in an Amsterdam apartment—accidentally receiving a phone call from an older man (Rutger Hauer, who also was an executive producer of the film). Over the course of the film, the pair ruminates on the pain of living and the suffering of humanity. Eventually, they form a bond.

Frisch pieces together the bare minimum of a narrative through a telephone conversation and various shots of an Amsterdam street out a single apartment window through the eyes of the young woman. Sometimes, the film chances upon pointed moments of duality; the woman constantly scans the streets for dirty hoodlums and homeless men. The movie takes on a neurotic tone as the woman describes her reasons for not wanting to leave her apartment.

But whatever clarity the film had breaks down midway when the woman is shown on-camera—understandable, given that the attractive Verbaan is a tabloid celebrity in the Netherlands. When the man responds to her stories, instead of showing his recollections, the audience is fed seemingly unrelated black and white shots which float on and off screen. This all leads up to an impractical and entirely unnecessary plot twist which serves to bring the couple closer together. By that time, however, “Dazzle” has already slid into a taxing exercise in incoherence.