What is sex without attraction?
Hemel – that’s ‚Äòheaven’ in Dutch – explores the escapades and nightly trysts of the title character as she searches for her identity. Director Sacha Polak has delivered a smart and sexy film that encapsulates frank discussions centred on sex, and explores a complex father / daughter relationship.
Breakout star Hannah Hoekstra’s debut performance as Hemel is powerfully hypnotic, and saw her awarded the Best Actress award at the Nederlands Film Festival in 2012. Hoekstra has managed to create a beautiful and youthful character with the subtle dimensions and layers that one would expect only from the most accomplished of actors.
The film opens to a scene filled with dappled morning light, white bed sheets and a naked young beauty conversing with a slightly older man. Here we see the establishment of Hemel’s willingness to provoke and tease men for her own pleasure, with little or no regard for their feelings. Their candid discussion of women’s pubic hair reveals Hemel’s desire to avoid being seen like a child. Ironically, as the film continues, her actions become more and more childlike.
As the chapters of Hemel progress, the focus of the film becomes the father/daughter relationship. Hemel’s father Gijs – played by Hans Gagelet of Dutch TV fame – is shown to be her rock, particularly after the death of her mother many years prior. When Gijs finds a new love in fellow art auctioneer Sophie (Rifka Lodeizen), Hemel feels threatened. The subsequent exploration of Hemel and Gij’s bond, one that is perhaps too close, begins to ask the question of where does one draw the line?
Hemel – enter a world of hypnotic beauty.
Hemel premieres at 9.30pm Sunday 23 March as part of WM Adult.